THE SIGN LANGUAGE
A Manual of Signs
Being a descriptive vocabulary of signs used
by the Deaf of the United States
J. SCHUYLER LONG, A. M., LITT. D.
Principal of the Iowa School for the Deaf,
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Revised and Enlarged
DES MOINES, IOWA
Copyright 1918, by J. Schuyler Long
The first edition of the Sign Manual having been exhausted
and the demand for copies being continuous the only thing
to do was to get out a second edition which is herewith pre-
sented with such changes and additions as experience has
Among these additions the most important is an appendix
containing distinctively Catholic signs, with illustrations to
accompany the descriptions.
The manual originally had its inception while the author
was teaching signs to a class of hearing teachers. After the
signs had been shown, a written description was furnished
as a guide for reference. The success of the plan suggested
that such a descriptive vocabulary would be a help to those
who were anxious to learn the sign language and to others
who felt the occasional need of some standard of reference to
refresh their memory or add to the signs already known.
The work is not presented with the idea that persons
unfamiliar with the deaf or their language can take it up and
therefrom master the art of communicating in the language of
pantomine and understand its peculiarities. But it is be-
lieved that those who have had some experience with the deaf
and have opportunities to see the signs made will find it easy
to follow the instructions given. As with all other languages,
so with this language, ease and familiarity in its use and the
mastery of its idiom come only by long practice and asso-
ciation with those to whom it is most familiar.
The Sign Language is not now used as a means in the edu-
cation of the deaf to so great an extent as during the early
years of the work. And in no school is it taught as was for-
merly the case. Its use in schools for the deaf at present
is confined to chapel and religious exercises, in their social
gatherings of pupils and on the playground.
As a result, pupils merely pick it up haphazard and often
from those unfamiliar with it, and no attempt is made to see
that it is learned and used correctly. Consequently this very
useful and valuable language of pantomime has not been
acquired by the rising generation in that purity and perfection
attained by the deaf and their instructors during the early
decades of its use in this country. It is believed, therefore,
4 TEE SIGN LANGUAGE
that the adult deaf on leaving school will find the manual
of assistance in acquiring a more certain and accurate com-
mand of their natural language.
Another hope of the author is that it will help to preserve
this expressive language, to which the deaf owe so much, in its
original purity and beauty, and that it will serve as a stand-
ard of comparison in different parts of the country, thereby
tending to secure greater uniformity.
The list below, I believe, includes practically all of the
root signs used by the deaf. It is by the use of these in
combination and for definition that the signs for other words
are made. It is not feasible in a work of this kind to indicate
the combination for every word, owing to the fact that it
is an ideographic and not a word language.
The words have been grouped under certain heads or classes
into which they seemed most naturally to fall. At times the
relation of certain words to their head may appear far-fetched
and the classification somewhat arbitrary, but such words
have been so placed on account of suggestion or association.
In making acknowledgments it is a pleasure to name first
of all the one who has ever been my greatest inspiration and
help in the preparation of the work — my wife. In taking up
the task I had her prompting and encouragement, and during
its progress her suggestions, advice and help were of the
greatest value. She alone made the additional drawings on
the photographs which amplified and completed the illus-
I am also indebted to Eev. Dr. Philip J. Hasenstab, of
Chicago, who carefully went over the manuscript, verifying
the descriptions, pointing out errors, and offering many sug-
gestions which have added to the value of the completed
material. Dr. Hasenstab received his early education in the
Indiana school under early masters of the Sign Language
who learned it at Hartford. This gives the assurance, there-
fore, that the descriptions conform to the original manner of
making the signs.
In the preparation of the second edition I am further in-
debted to Rev. Father F. A. Moeller, formerly of Chicago,
but now of Kansas City, for the descriptions of distinctively
Catholic signs which are here added. Father Moeller is presi-
dent of the Catholic Deaf-Mute Conference which approved
his sign vocabulary. In addition to furnishing the descrip-
tions he posed for the pictures used in the illustrations.
February, 1918. J. SCHUYLER LONG.
THE SIGN LANGUAGE
The Abbe (Charles Michel) de l'Epee is regarded as the in-
ventor of the Sign Language of the deaf. He was born in
1712 at Varsailles where his father was an architect in the
royal service. Rejected as a candidate for holy orders because
he refused to sign certain doctrinal tenets he studied law and
was admitted as an advocate in Paris. Three years later,
however he followed his greater inclination and was finally
accepted in the priesthood.
In the course of his priestly labors he came across two deaf-
mute sisters who had been partly educated by one Father
Vanin by means of pictures. On Father Vanin's death their
education came to a halt and the Abbe de l'Epee, moved by
their condition resolved to take up and continue it. He found
other deaf children and undertook their education. Thus his
life work began and henceforth, not only his energies, but his
private means, were devoted to the education of the deaf.
To carry out his plan he conceived the idea of using natural
signs, and these not being sufficient to answer the purpose
of grammatical syntax he invented others until he had system-
atized a vocabulary of considerable size. Many of his signs,
of course, were arbitrary but the majority were based on
natural pantomime. He published a volume, and later a re-
vised edition of the same, describing his methods and system
Altho he taught some of his pupils to articulate, he believed
signs were the vernacular of the deaf and hence essential to
their comprehension and translation of ideas into language.
He founded a school for the deaf in Paris in 1760, his work
being entirely philanthropic. Previous efforts to educate the
deaf had been sporadic and confined to scions of the nobility,
but de l'Epee seems to have been the first to open his school to
the poor and he carried on his labors without expectation of
pecuniary reward. De l'Epee died in 1789 and was succeeded
as head, of the school by the Abbe (Roch Ambroise Cucurron)
6 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Sicard. Three years later the school was taken over by the
government and became the "National Institute."
In 1815 several gentlemen of Hartford, Connecticut, headed
by Dr. Cogswell, who had a deaf daughter, became interested
in the establishment of a school for the deaf in this country.
The Eev. Thomas H. Gallaudet had shown some interest in the
work and made experimental efforts in teaching Alice Cogs-
well. These gentlemen resolved to send Gallaudet abroad to
study methods there by way of preparation for starting the
school they had in mind. When Gallaudet reached England
he found the work in that country under a monopoly in the
hands of the Braidwood family. They refused to allow him
access to their secrets or to give him any assistance except
under conditions with which he could not comply. He met
the Abbe Sicard in London and was by him cordially invited
to visit the school at Paris. There he was shown every cour-
tesy and spent several months studying methods and learning
the sign language. Returning to America he brought with
him Laurent Clerc, a graduate of the Paris school and at that
time a teacher in his alma mater. When the school at Hartford
was opened, Clerc was employed as an instructor, teaching
the sign language to other instructors, and thus the so-called
"French method" with its language of pantomime Avas intro-
duced into this country.
Finger spelling used by the deaf and in their education was
originated by neither them nor their teachers but is a borrowed
art. No authentic information is obtainable as to its origin
but the researches of the late Prof. J. C. Gordon, of Gallaudet
college brought to light certain historical data from which we
get the following facts :
The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used finger signs for
numbers. There is evidence of the existence of dactylology
among the Assyrians, on their monuments of art, down to the
fifteenth century. The venerable Bede described finger spell-
ing more than a thousand years ago and three manual alpha-
bets are figured in an edition of his works printed in 1532.
Monks and others under vows of silence as well as others
who had special reasons for secret communication used both
signs and finger spelling. Rossellius, a Florentine monk, men-
tioned three such alphabets in 1579.
The first finger alphabet adopted in teaching spoken and
written language to the deaf was the Spanish one-hand alpha-
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 7
Let which contain certain forms found in the Florentine plates
of 1579. The idea of using it in this connection originated
with a pious and learned monk, Pedro Ponce de Leon. (1520-
The Spanish alphabet, somewhat modified, was introduced
into France by Pereire and his gifted deaf pupil, Saboureaux
de Fontenay where it speedily supplanted the clumsy alpha-
bets used by de l'Epee and others. An improved form of this
alphabet was learned by Gallaudet while in France and with
a few slight changes was adopted by him when he opened the
first permanent school for the deaf in America at Hartford.
In making the letters it is recommended that the arm be
held in an easy position near the body with the forearm as
indicated in the plates. It is not necessary to move the arm,
but a short leverage is conducive to ease and permissible,
provided the hand delivers the letters within an imaginary
ring, of, say, ten inches in diameter. In colloquial use the
fingers need not be so closely held nor so firmly flexed as rep-
resented in the cuts; but sprawling should be avoided. Each
letter should be mastered before leaving it.
Certain letters, as c, d, i, j, k, 1, m, n, o, q, u, v, w, and z,
resemble written or printed forms. J is simply traced in the
air with the little finger and z is in like manner traced with
the index finger. H, u, and n differ only in the position of
the hand and t is formed as in "taking off baby's nose."
These ten words contain all the letters and should be prac-
ticed upon: adz, fan, map, low, box, jar, sky, hat, quill, glove.
The sign language is an ideographic and pantomimic lan-
guage. Except in the case of a few arbitrary signs they all
represent some distinctive suggestion of the action, shape,
or characteristic of the object or idea they are intended to
signify. Thus in the signs for "run" and "walk" the hands
take the place of the feet in making the motion of the latter
to convey the idea of these actions. In the signs for "bird,"
"horse," and "cow," the fingers form the bill, the arms rep-
resent the wings, fingers the ears, and the hands the horns of
these animals respectively. So, with few exceptions, when
signs are carefully analyzed or traced to their origin, we will
find a reasonable connection between the pantomime and the
object or idea.
Many signs, however, have been modified, until they appear
more or less arbitrary and have lost their original connection
8 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
and significance. They are, as a rule, made colloquially briefer
when combined in a narrative than when made alone, and
when several signs are rapidly made one after another they
apparently lose their individuality, though to the experienced
observer the essential part of the sign is preserved. For there
are usually some essential movements of the hands or fingers
in each sign and some that are not essential, and a one-armed
man making the necessary part of the signs with one hand in-
stead of two against his body or a near-by object is readily
In using signs to express thought an idea is presented in
word pictures rather than in an orderly arrangement of single
signs that correspond to single words in grammatical order.
Hence there is not always an exact interpretation of the
thought in words, but in pictures only. For this reason the
language is manifestly imperfect when compared with written
or spoken language.
One sign conveying an idea may be translated into different
words under different circumstances or as used in connection
with different subjects. This is apparent in the use of the one
sign for different grammatical forms of the same word, as there
is no difference in making' the sign whether the adjective, the
noun, or the adverb is intended. The context, so to speak, is
depended upon to determine which of these is intended. Thus
the sign for "love" conveying the idea of affection may mean
the verb "love," the nouns "love," "affection," the adjectives
"loving/* "'''dear," "affectionate," "loved," etc., and the ad-
verbs "lovingly," "affectionately," and so on. "Pretty"
may be also "beauty," "loveliness," "comeliness," "fair-
ness," "beautiful," "lovely," "handsome," "fair," and again
"beautifully," "handsomely," and so on through the list.
It should be noted, in passing, what beginners sometimes
overlook, that words spelled alike but different in meaning
have different signs. This is obvious when one remembers
ideas and not sounds are represented. Thus the preposition
"to" and the infinitive "to" are vastly different in signs.
The tense sign is not always necessary and in ordinary con-
versation is rarely indicated except when one desires to be
explicit. If at dinner one expresses an intention of going to
town in the afternoon he simply says in signs, "I go town
afternoon. This is interpreted as "I am going to town this
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 9
afternoon," or "I will go," etc. If he has returned and men-
tions the fact at supper that he went, he would use the same
signs and it would naturally be interpreted as "I went to town
this afternoon." Most likely, however, he would be even
briefer than that, simply conveying the idea of town and
going, and possibly make the sign for "finished" denoting
that it had been done.' In both cases he depends upon the
time he is speaking to make the tense understood.
Other omissions are those of the prepositions and the
articles. Also in asking a question the briefest sign, coupled
with a look of inquiry, or a simple sign in reply to a question,
may express the idea contained in a whole sentence. It is,
for the most part, this tendency to eliminate, coupled with
the imperfect use of the sign language by those with but
scant knowledge of it, which causes so much confusion in
the minds of young deaf children while they are acquiring
English in the school room. And on account of this con-
fusion it is held by many as undesirable for use in giving
instruction therein; but it should not be unjustly blamed for
the sins of our imperfect methods of educating the deaf. The
haphazard, slipshod manner of using signs is to be strongly
condemned and the English order should be followed as nearly
The mastery of the sign language consists not so much in
the number of signs one may know as in the cleverness with
which those he does know are used. Many different ideas
can be expressed with a few signs coupled with natural ges-
tures. Many ideas having no sign of their own may readily
be communicated by signs to define them. Indeed, many
words must be signed in this way, which somewhat resembles
the German way of coining words. "Gentleman" is literally
(in signs) "polite man;" "neighbor" is "live-near-er;" and
"coal" is "black hard." With whatever signs, few or many,
and whatever the manner of delivery, one should aim to con-
vey his idea or thought as plainly and forcibly as possible to
others, so that the latter may be able to reproduce it in as
good English or other language as the narrator would. So
the success of reproduction is determined rather by the mental
training of habitual reception, thought, and expression than
by the sign language in itself.
Signs undergo certain local changes, and new signs are
coined to meet local requirements, so that some may be made
10 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
differently in different parts of the country, while some local-
ities have signs that others do not. In this it but follows the
natural course of any other language and we have localisms in
signs as well as speech. To this class belong the occasional
slang signs with which a deaf person occasionally intersperses
his talk, but with a few exceptions such signs are not given in
the following list.
The manner and emphasis have much to do with the sig-
nificance of a sign. The degree of a quality is thus often in-
dicated as well as the mood and feeling of the speaker. And
it goes without saying that the expression must indicate joy
or sorrow, fun or seriousness, and both the eyes and face
must reflect the character of the idea expressed. One may
express the idea of quietness by simply laying the fingers on
the lips. But when the same finger is thrown violently against
the lips with a rebuke expressed in the face, it becomes "keep
still," while with an impudent or threatening look it may ex-
press "shut up." The facial grimaces, however, and the
"mouthing" affected by some, are in no way a part of the
sign and the habit is to be strongly condemned.
There are certain signs of importance, such as the tense
signs and sex signs, which are added to the simple sign. Thus
the signs for "now," "past," and "will" are used with all
verb signs to indicate time, and "finished" is used to designate
the complete tenses. "One" and "many" are added or pre-
fixed to mark the singular and plural, while "male" and
"female" indicate "sex." Others of this class are the pro-
gressive sign and the auxiliary verbs.
In connection with its incompleteness and imperfection when
compared with written or spoken language, it should be re-
membered that the sign language was originally designed as
a means of educating young deaf children and the vocabulary
was therefore limited. Its usefulness has gone far beyond this
first purpose, and incomplete and imperfect though it may
be, it is, in the hands of its masters, a most beautiful and ex-
pressive language, for Avhich, in their intercourse with each
other and as a means of easily and quickly reaching the minds
of the deaf, neither nature nor art has given them a satisfac-
In spite of the fact that it has been discarded from the school
room and efforts made to relegate it to the past, the Sign Lan-
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 11
guage is very much a live language. It is impossible for those
who do not understand it to comprehend its possibilities with
the deaf, its powerful influence on the moral and social happi-
ness of those deprived of hearing, and its wonderful power
of carrying thought to intellects which would otherwise be in
But those who do understand it and know the deaf never fail
to acknowledge its place in the lives of those who can not
hear and to appreciate its importance as a factor in their hap-
piness. Whether they favor one or another of the methods of
educating the deaf, they recognize the very great value of
signs in social intercourse among the deaf, and its necessity
in the pulpit and on the platform.
By means of the sign language the deaf child is enabled to
comprehend subjects which his limited vocabulary would
never enable him to do while dependent upon speech and
reading alone. With the aid of an interpreter the deaf may
enjoy lectures, sermons, plays, and all else while one of an
audience, save, alone, music. Without signs they would
be shut out from the full enjoyment of intellectual treats such
as these. While in spiritual matters, signs enable the minister
to reach thousands where any other method of communication
would reach the few. Spiritual truths told and explained in
the language of signs reach the understanding and the con-
science of the deaf child as no other means can possibly do.
In describing the position assumed to make the sign it is
given as it would be in making the sign by itself. When a
number of signs are made in succession, as in a continued nar-
rative, they fall into the next position from the last without
any stop, the movement of the arms and hands being prac-
tically continuous. The sign is made, usually in front of the
body in an easy position, the hands, unless otherwise specified,
being held on a line with the elbows or a little above.
In order to save repetition and ambiguity in description,
certain positions of the hands used in making the manual
alphabet are taken as basic positions. (See opposite page.)
These are referred to as the "A" hand, the "B" hand, and
so on, the positions being those of the hand in making those
letters. In the "&" hand it should be noted that the last
position of the hand in making the "&" is meant, and not
its movement part. Besides the letter positions there are sev-
eral others as follows :
The "extended" or the "open hand." Hold the hand open,
the fingers extended and close together, with the thumb ex-
tended. It might be described as the position of the hand when
one offers it to shake.
The "closed 'O' hand." Make "0" with the thumb and
forefinger while all the 'Other fingers are closed against the
The "extended 'O' hand." Make "0" with the thumb
and forefingers as above but extend all the other fingers
The "bent hand." Bend the fingers in toward the palm
but not touching it. The fingers assume about the position
they have in making "C," but the thumb is extended.
The "5 hand." Hold the hand open, the fingers extended
and separated, as in showing the number 5.
In looking for any sign look for the word which most nearly
seems to express the idea.
The Roman figures refer to the plate in which the illus-
tration will be found, the Arabic figures to the number under
the picture itself.
To Be, to Exist.— Hold the forefinger of the right "G"
hand pointing upward, against the mouth ; move the whole
hand, finger still held upright, forward straight out from
the mouth; then bring the "A" hands together, the end of
the right thumb resting on the nail of the left thumb, and
move both hands this way forward. (Note : This is the present
and acceptable way to make this sign though formerly there
were other signs. These are not here given, as it seems un-
necessary.) The usual way is to make simply the first part
of the sign with the forefinger, and then finish with "now"
or "past" to indicate tense, and "many" to indicate plural.
To Be, infinitive and imperative.— Hold the right "G"
hand straight out in front from the side, the "G" up; crook
the forefinger and move the hand toward the left side hori-
zontally in front of the body. I, 2.
To Be, auxiliary of the passive voice. — Press the forefinger
of the right "G" hand, pointing upward, against the mouth;
then bring both open hands, palm toward palm, pointing up-
ward, to the side of the face and throw each back over the
corresponding shoulders, letting the thumbs strike against
and come to rest on the shoulders.
Can, expressing possibility, power, etc. — Hold the "S"
hands out in front, elbows against sides, and let the hands
drop a little way with a jerk. I, 3.
Can't. — Holding the left "G" hand out in front, strike the
end of it with the forefinger of the right "G" hand, as if
cutting it off, and letting the right hand continue down. I, 4.
May, Maybe, Perhaps, indicating probability. — Hold out
both open hands in front straight from the sides, palms up;
balance the hands up and down alternately several times
like the balances of a pair of scales. I, 5.
May, indicating permission. — Hold both open hands out
in front straight from the sides, pointing downward; with a
forward motion throw the hands out till they point forward.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 15
Should, Ought, indicating duty. — Press the crooked fore-
finger of the right "G" hand against the lips and then move
toward side and downward as in "must" (see below). Or,
(2) Indicate by the signs "better" and "must." Better
is signed as follows : Place the end of the right open hand
pointing toward the left, palm against the mouth ; draw away
towa rd the side, assuming the position of "A" and lifting it
to a level with the head. "Must," see below.
Must, Need, Have to. — Crook the forefinger of the right
" G " hand, pointing it downward, and press the hand down
some distance with more or less force. Sometimes the motion
is repeated several times. I, 7.
Have, to Possess. — Cross the open hands in front, palms to
self and then draw them up against the breast. I, 8.
Have, Finished, auxiliary of the complete tenses. — Hold the
left "B" hand in front, palm to self and end pointing toward
the right; upon its upper edge place the right "B" hand,
pointing out, and the little finger edge resting on the forefinger
near the knuckle ; scrape along the edge of the left hand with
the right, and when the end of the left hand is reached, let
the right drop down directly with a "chopping off" motion.
The usual way is to give only the right hand a downward
"cut" across the end of the left.
Note : The colloquial and by far the most common method
of rendering the sign for "finished" is to hold the right open
or " 5 " hand out in front from the side and give it a flip toward
the right, with a twist of the wrist so the palm is turned down.
In indicating the complete tenses first sign "have" as for
"possess," then give the sign for the verb, and last the sign
for "have" or "finish" as above. I, 9.
Do. — Hold the bent hands out in front from the sides, fin-
gers pointing downward; move the hands first to one side
and then to the other, giving them a slight downward pres-
sure as they start toward the side. The fingers may be slightly
separated as in the bent "5" hands, as in playing the keys
of a piano. I, 10.
Will and Shall, indicating future. — Hold the right open
hand pointing straight out and elevated to a level with the
shoulder, and push it straight, forward the length of the arm.
16 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Won't. — Holding the right "S" hand out in front from tie
side, jerk the hand back, doubling the elbow. I, 12.
The tense signs are as follows: For the present, same as
"now," i. e., Hold the open or bent hands, in front, from the
sides, palms up, and drop them both at the same time with a
slight jerking motion. The past is indicated by throwing the
right open hand back over the right shoulder, palm backward.
The future is indicated by "will" (see above). In making the
sign for any verb the tense sign is rarely given unless essential
to make it specific. Usually the tense is understood by in-
ference. I, 13, 14, 15.
PERSONAL, RELATIVE AND INDEFINITE PRONOUNS
I. — Place "I" hand, thumb against breast and little finger
You, Thou. — Point forefinger at person addressed.
You (plural). — Point forefinger and draw around in semi-
circle from right to left or vice versa.
Me. — Point the forefinger at centre of one's own breast.
(Touch self with forefinger.)
We, Us. — Point forefinger at self, then point out, bring
round in circle as in "You," and back to self. II, 16.
My and Mine. — Press open hand, palm against breast to
Your and Yours. — Push open palm toward the person or
persons addressed. This sign is also used to denote posses-
sion, the hand being pushed toward the possessor.
He. — Make forehead sign for "male;" then extend "G"
hand toward an imaginary person.
She. — Sign for "female" and extend hand as in "he."
They. — Make sign for "male" and female;" then, as be-
fore, in "he" and "she." Or,
(2) Sometimes the sign is made by indicating "male" and
"female," then making, sign for "both."
It. — The "I" hand is moved toward an imaginary object
with a twisting motion of the wrist.
His, Her, Hers, Theirs. — Make sign for pronoun and then
add possessive sign, i. e., push open palm toward imaginary
Self (emphatic). — The position and movement of the hand
is similar to that in "him," "her," etc., but is made in an
emphatic way or with great force.
Self (reflexive). — The "A" hand is held with points of the
fingers against the speaker.
Myself. — With the hand in position of making "A" strike
the thumb against center of breast and repeat several limes.
Himself, Herself, Themselves, etc — Make sign for pronoun
and then add sign for self.
18 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Who. — Purse the lips as in pronouncing "who," then point-
ing the forefinger at the mouth, a few inches away, move the
end of the finger around in a circle. As interrogative, express
inquiry on face or make " ?" in air with forefinger. II, 18.
That (as a relative), Which.— Place left hand in position
of making "L" in front of you, pointing toward the right;
place end of right forefinger on end of left, and then turn it
up and back to touch the thumb, thus indicating the fact that
it refers to an antecedent. II, 19.
That (demonstrative pronoun).— Make "Y" with the right
hand, and holding left hand out, palm up, throw the "Y"
upon it; the sign may be without throwing "Y" upon the
left hand but holding the "Y" of cither hand out a little way,
give a slight jerking or throwing motion to the hand at the
wrist, toward imaginary object, moving the arm the least bit.
Note : This is a very useful sign and is used to designate
the identical person or thing spoken of, previously referred
to; and it may be interpreted to mean "just so," "that's it,"
"the same," and takes the place of an habitual expression
used as an interposition by one listening, to encourage the
speaker, or denote interest in what is being said.
Whom. — Same as "who" but is sometimes expressed by
"who" followed by the sign for the demonstrative "that," or
the sign for "him," omitting the male sign.
Whose. — Sign for "who" followed by possessive sign.
What. — Hold left hand in front of you, with palm toward
you, fingers pointing to right and held apart; place the end
of the right forefinger on that of left forefinger, and then
draw it down across the other fingers. Or,
(2) Hold right forefinger poised at a slight angle, then
shake it from side to side as in shaking a rattle.
Note: The first sign is preferable; when used as an inter-
rogative, express inquiry on the face or make a question mark
in the air.
Whatever, Whoever, etc.— Make sign for desired pronoun,
then add sign for "any."
Any.— Place "A" hand over toward left side and draAv it
quickly over to the right side, the while giving it an ague-like
shaking motion. II, 21.
Anything. — Usually made the same as "any." Or,
(2) Make sign for "any" and add "thing."
a Manual of signs 19
Thing. — Hold open hand in front of you as if holding some-
thing between thumb and fingers; hand pointed toward the
left; drop the hand slightly, repeating the motion as the hand
is drawn back toward the right side.
Any one. — Same as for "any," then add sign for "male"
or "female." II, 17. Or,
(2) Hold forefinger pointing up, back of hand down, fin-
gers and thumb closed over palm, move hand from side to side.
Some. — Draw the right open hand toward you across the
end of the left open hand, hold palm up, describing a curved
mark on the palm with the little finger edge.
Some one. — Same as for "any one."
Something. — Sign for "some" and "thing."
Every. — Place left "A" hand in front of you, the end of
the thumb pointing out; with right "A" hand and a striking
motion bring backs of the fingers of right hand down or
against the back of the thumb of the left; repeat this motion
with thumbs pointing first at one and then another imaginary
person in a short semi-circle. (Some might add sign for "all.")
Each. — Same as "every" but add "1."
Both. — With the left hand, grasp the right "V" hand at
the back of the fingers and draw the "V" down and out, as
you close the left hand upon them.
Such. — Make sign for "same" (with forefinger of each
hand extended straight out, bring them together in front of
you, parallel); then sign for "that" as demonstrative pro-
Either. — Close left hand, except thumb and forefinger
which are extended and pointed upward, or inclined slightly
toward self; touch first the thumb and then the forefinger
with the forefinger of the right hand; bring both "A" handy
away opposite each other, lowering and raising them alter-
nately like a see-saw, to indicate "one or the other." II, 24.
Neither. — Same as for "either," but prefix or follow with
sign for "not," i. e., passing open right palm across open left
hand, both turned downward, or raise "A" hand to chin and
None.— Make sign for "any one" then "nothing" (lift "0"
to mouth without touching, then quickly throw it off; in the
meantime open the hand and throw out the fingers).
20 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
This. — Simply point to an imaginary object near you. For
"These" jioint to several imaginary objects.
That. — Point to a distant imaginary object, and for "Those"
point to several. (See "That," demonstrative, above.)
Other. — Position of hand as in "A," thumb well up; with
a motion including the whole forearm, describe a semicircle in
the air with the end of the thumb. For the plural, repeat two
or three times, or add sign for "many." II, 25.
Another. — Made in the same way, but "1" is sometimes
Few, Several. — Extend, ■ or straighten the fingers of the
right "A" hand one at a time, beginning with the forefinger.
Many" — Double the fists in front of you, backs down ; throw
the fingers out and apart quickly. Repeat this motion two or
More. — Hold the left hand with thumb and fingers gathered
together at a point and the ends pointing upward ; from the
side lift the right hand, thumb and fingers gathered as in the
left, and place it upon the left hand so that the ends of the
fingers meet, those of one hand pointing up and those of the
other down. II, 26. Or,
(2) Hold out open left hand, palm toward right; against,
the palm throw the right "&" hand two or three times. Or,
(3) Make the sign for "many" and raise the right "A"
hand higher than the left.
Most. — Make the sign for "many" or "more;" then the
indication of the superlative with right "A" raised high above.
All. — Bring the hands out easily, and after touching them
at the forefingers, bring them around in a circle as if to in-
clude the whole. Commonly the left hand is at rest, held at
a slight angle, and the right hand alone describes the circle
coming to rest in the palm of the left hand. II, 28.
Divers, Various, to indicate Different Objects. — Place the
ends of the forefingers, one above the. other, nails up, and held
at an angle of 45 degrees, and rest of the fingers and thumbs
closed; bring the forefingers apart, giving them a shaking
motion up and down.
One Another.— Hold the left "A" hand, thumb pointing up,
and the right "A" hand, thumb pointing down; rotate the
thumbs around each other. II, 30.
MANKIND AND RELATIONSHIP
There are two distinguishing signs for sex, and these signs
are prefixed to the sign of the person or persons signified.
They are as follows :
Male. — Eaise the hand to the forehead as if about to grasp
the rim of the hat ; go through the grasping motion as the
hand reaches the forehead and is placed against it instead of
out where the rim of the hat would he. The grasping motion
is usually repeated several times with the hand held against
the forehead. Ill, 31.
Female.— Lift the "A" hand to the side of the jaw ju;t
behind the ear, so that the thumb touches the jaw; draw the
hand down so that the end of the thumb passes along the
under edge of the jaw bone until it reaches the chin. Ill, 32.
Man. — The sign for "male" is usually sufficient, but to be
exact the hand is then brought out indicating a man's height.
Woman. — The sign for "female" likewise is sufficient for
"woman," but the height is also indicated.
Boy. — Sign for "male;" then indicate size.
Girl. — Sign for "female;" then indicate size.
Gentleman. — Sign for "male;" then bring the "5" hand
down and with the ends of the fingers pointing up and the
hand at right angles with the body, strike the thumb against
the breast. Ill, 33.
Lady. — Sign for "female" and finish as in "gentleman."
Father. — "With fingers closed and thumb extended, place
thumb at the right side of the forehead and at right angles
to it ; with a slightly twisting motion, bring hand away, open-
ing fingers and turning palm upward; at the same time bring
the left hand up similarly and place parallel to the right as
if lifting up a babe. Ill, 34.
Mother. — Starting with the sign for "woman" bring hands
in same way as for "father." TIT, 35.
Note: There is also a common sign for "father" made by
merely placing hand as indicated and then opening finger*,
keeping the thumb at forehead. In the case of mother, the
22 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
thumb is left at the end of the jaw near the chin and the fin-
Son. — Sign for "male;" then rest the hand on the left fore-
arm or wrist, palms of both hands up. Ill, 36.
Daughter. — Sign for "female;" then same as in "son."
Grandfather.— Sign for "father;" then with a slight twist
ing motion, raise both hands the second time and a little higher
as if to represent a generation up. Ill, 39.
Grandmother. — Sign for "woman;" then bring hands in
position as for "grandfather."
Brother. — Sign for "man;" then bring both hands together
in front of you, the forefingers extended parallel, pointing
outward, with the rest of the fingers closed. Ill, 37.
Sister. — Sign for "woman;" then same as "brother." Ill, 38.
Father-in-Law.— Sign for "father" and then "law." "Law"
is signed as follows : Hold left hand in front of you perpendicu-
larly, fingers together, extended parallel, pointing; throw the
forefinger of the right "G-" hand against the palm of the left.
Mother-in-law.— "Mother" and "law."
Brother-in-law.— "Brother" and "law."
Sister-in-law. — "Sister" and "law."
Uncle. — Place the letter "U" at the side of the head, near
the temple, and draw it downward the least bit with a wavy
Aunt. — Place letter "A" opposite jaw as when making sign
for "woman" but not touching; then same motion as in
Cousin (male). — Letter "C" side of head as in "uncle;"
give same motion.
Cousin (female).— Letter "C" same position as for "aunt"
and give same motion.
Nephew. — Letter "N" in front of forehead and same motion.
Niece. — Letter "N" at side of right jaw and same motion.
Baby. — Indicate with arms the act of holding or swinging
a baby in the arms.
Marry. — Clasp the palms of the hands together. Ill, 41.
Husband. — Si<;n for "male;" then "marry."
Wife — Sign for "female;" then "marry."
Note: The idea of celibacy is indicated by "no marriage"
or "old one." Bachelor is signed by making sign for "male"
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 23
and then "old, one," the "one" being moved straight out
a little way. Old Maid is indicated by female sign and then
as for "bachelor." Old is signed by placing the right "C"
hand against the chin, closing it to "S" and drawing it down
like pulling a beard.
Home.— Place the end of the right "&" hand at the
mouth as in "eat;" then carry it to the right side of the
cheek. Ill, 42.
SENSATIONS, FEELINGS AND AFFECTIONS
Love. — Press both hands over the heart, flat, one upon the
other. IV, 43.
Hate. — Hold the open hands out toward left side, ends
pointing up; push hands away and avert face as if pushing
off some unpleasant object. IV, 44.
Like. — "With the rest of the fingers closed, bring the thumb
and forefinger up nearly touching the breast, then draw them
away, bringing thumb and finger together as if the heart
was being drawn out toward the object. The sign for "please"
is also used to mean "like." IV, 45.
Dislike. — Extend the hands up partly at one side, with mid-
dle finger held back by the thumb, the other fingers extended
and pointing outward ; suddenly shoot off the middle finger
as in shooting a marble or the game of crokinole. This sign
is more for "despise." "Dislike" is also made by sign for
"like" followed by "not." IV, 46.
Make love to. — Hold the closed hands, the middle joints of
the fingers of one against those of the other, thumbs up, in
position of "A" except that the}- are raised above the fore-
fingers and bent from the middle joint; wiggle both thumbs
up and down. This sign is also used to indicate the individual
object of one's affections, followed by sex sign. IV, 47.
Fall in love. — "With right hand in position of "V" but
fingers pointed down, throw the two fingers against the palm
of the left hand brought out to receive them, palm up, and then
slide them along the length of the hand. The heart is some-
times touched with the middle finger first.
Flirt. — Extend out both "5" hands, palms down, and ends
of thumbs meeting; wiggle the fingers with motion as in
playing a piano.
Please, Pleasure, etc. — Rub the palm of the right hand over
the heart with circular motion. IV, 48.
Happy, Delighted, Joy, etc.— Throw palm of the right hand
against the heart several times with a patting motion. IV, 49.
Cheerful (as to countenance.) — Place ends of forefingers at
corners of the mouth and draw out to represent the mouth
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 25
broadening in smiles, then briny the hands away with the
lingers moving from the knuckles in a rapid up-and-down
motion to indicate the "beams of joy" radiating from the
face, and look as cheerful as you can.
Sorry, Sorrow, etc. — "With the hand in position of "A" rub
it in a circular motion over the heart, with appropriate ex-
pression. IV, 50.
Sad, Sadness, Dejected, Gloomy 1 , etc. — Hold the hands in
front of the face, fingers extended and apart, and pointing up ;
bring the hand down a little way with a jerk and bend the
head slightly over as the hand falls, indicating a dejected
attitude. IV, 51.
Feel. — Place end of the middle finger, with others extended
and held away, against the heart and draw it up a little way.
Taste. — Place the finger on the tip of the tongue as in act
Hear (idea of sound). — Place finger at ear as if listening.
See (idea of vision). — With hand as in "V" bring the fin-
gers (forefinger and middle) up astraddle the nose with the
ends on the face just below the eyes; move the hand outward,
the ends of the fingers representing direction of the sight.
Look. — Same as "see," but instead of moving hand as above
turn the "V" and point ends of fingers outward. IV, 54.
Smell. — Move the palm up before tip of nose, as if present-
ing something to be smelled.
Sick. — Place the end of the right middle finger (with others
extended and held away) on the centre of the forehead and
that of the left hand at the pit of the stomach, and bend
slightly over, as if in some distress. IV, 55.
Well. — Place hands, one on each side of the breast, palms
toward you ; close the hands as you draw them away and move
them down with a jerk. IV, 56.
Pain. — Place hands in front of you with only forefingers
extended and pointing toward each other several inches apart,
then throw them at each other without touching the ends
together; pain in any part of the body in indicated by placing
the hands over that part of the body and making the motion ;
for instance, in headache the fingers are thrown at each other
across the forehead.
26 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Cross. — Place the hand, pointing upward before the face,
palm to it; bend the fingers toward face like the talons of an
eagle, repeating motion several times, and add meaning by
expression of the face. IV, 57.
Angry. — With the lingers bent, talon-like, throw hand
against the waist, partly at one side; give a tearing, upward
motion against the body. Sometimes both hands are used.
Quarrel. — Hold the "G" hands out in front of you, fore-
fingers pointed one toward the other; throw fingers at each
other, and repeat several times, or let ends of fingers drop,
and draw up again, imitating motion of roosters fighting.
Fight. — Throw the fists against opposite sides of the face
at the same time.
Sweet (including size, form, etc., as well as taste). — Draw
the ends of the fore and middle fingers, held together down-
ward, across the center of the mouth. Used in connection
with "smell" this means fragrant, etc. IV, 59.
Sour. — Throw the end of the forefinger toward or against
the mouth, giving the expression of the face as if tasting some-
thing sour. IV, 60.
Bitter. — Made same way as for sour, then turn hand away
and push palm out as if pushing away bitter medicine.
Friend, Friendship, etc. — Clasp the forefingers, one above
the other, then bring them apart and clasp them again, but in
the opposite direction, the hands changing their relative posi-
tions. IV, 61.
Enemy. — Draw the hands up, the right close to the body,
forefinger extended and pointing away from you, and the
other hand with forefinger in similar position but opposite
and pointing toward the right finger; then draw both hands
away, holding them momentarily in a menacing attitude.
Kind, Gentleness, etc. — Place both extended hands in front
of you, palms toward you, one hand beyond the other a few
inches; move hands one around the other in a circle like cars
in a Ferris wheel. IV, 63.
Cruel, Rude, etc.— Bring both "G" hands out in front, fore-
fingers extended, throw the end of the one against the other
lengthwise, alternately pushing and drawing them the length
of the fingers, repeating several times. The degree of cruelty
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 27
may be indicated by the emphasis put on the movement. IV, 64.
Mean. — Place the "A" hands together in front of you, the
middle joints of each hand touching; now raise the right hand
slightly; bring it down quickly against the left so the joints
strike those of the left hand, something after the manner of
striking flint. For shameful meanness rub hand against the
side of cheek first, as in "shame." IV, 65.
Tired, Weary, etc. — With the hands extended downward,
place the ends against the waist in front about six inches
apart; bend the hands down, the ends still against you, until
the hands are doubled over and then let them drop down in
a listless sort of way and stoop the shoulders slightly, giving
the idea of weariness. IV, 66.
Tedious. — Place the end of the forefinger on the tip of the
nose and press it down, bending the head forward slightly
as if in obedience to the pressure of the finger.
Funny, Humorous, etc. — Rub the nose downward with the
ends of the fore and middle fingers two or three times and
look funny. IV, 67.
Contempt, Scorn, etc. — Eest the crook of the forefinger
against one side of the mouth, and the thumb against other
(somewhat like "C" pressed against mouth), then bring
down and represent action of shooting marble from end of
Snub (or turn up one's nose at). — Grasp end of nose with
thumb and forefinger, and turn up end of nose, bringing hand
away from nose in the act.
Indifference (all the same to me). — Place bent left hand in
front, fingers pointing up ; brush the ends of fingers of left hand
with the right open hand, first one way with palm and then
back with back of hand, and repeat several times. IV, 68.
(2) Or, with right "Y" hand, fingers on under side and
fingers pointing outward, give it a slight jerk and down
(as in "the same"); then repeat the action but throw the
hand over toward the left, indicating it is "the same" both
To cut or ignore one. — Holding the hand perpendicularly
and at right angles to the face, rub the forefinger, edge upward,
against the end of the nose, indicating a "stiff neck."
Fascinate. — Bring the hand up before the face, with fingers
extended except the thumb and forefinger which are brought
28 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
together as if about to grasp something; bring them nearly
together and then draw out slowly from the face (giving the
idea of drawing the attention out), giving the face an intent
or concentrated look.
Free, Safe, Save, Relief, etc. (idea of freedom from some
bondage). — With "S" hands crossed at the wrists as if bound,
with an apparent effort break the imaginary bonds and free
the hands, throwing them apart. IV, 69.
Obey (idea of submission to authority). — Hold "A" hands
in front, backs down; let both hands drop, opening them the
while ; some carry the hands up toward right shoulder and
drop from there. IV, 70.
Disobey (defiance to authority). — With elbow at side bend
up the arm with the fist on a level with the shoulder; bring
the elbow out and give a twist to the fist, slightly turning the
head to indicate defiance. IV, 71.
Pride. — With fingers closed and thumb extended bring end
of thumb against the front of body about the waist line and
with chest thrown out proudly draw the thumb up to the
center of the breast. IV, 72.
Vain. — Bring both " V " hands in front of and slightly abov;-
the shoulders, one on each side ; the ends of the fingers pointing
a little back ; bend the fingers simultaneously so that they
point directly over the shoulders; then straighten, making
the motions alternately. IV, 73.
Victory, Triumph, etc. — Raise the "A" hand and swing it
in a circle above the head (at the side) as in waving a small
Hope, Expect (something looked forward to with desire). —
Place end of right forefinger on center of forehead; extend
left hand out and up at an angle of about 45 degrees, palm
up; now bring right hand away from the forehead and place
it palm down just above the bend of the elbow; bend the
right hand down and at the same time the left up and repeat
several times with a kind of beckoning motion. Or move the
fingers of both hands in same position as above with a shaking
motion like playing the keys of a piano. IV, 74.
Wait. — Extend the left arm out a little away from the sid*?,
palm up; bring the right hand in the same position " tandem "-
wise, so the arm rests across the body ; work the fingers as in
A MANUAL OF SIGNS. 29
playing a piano or a stringed instrument, only have the fingers
pointing up. IV, 75.
Wish, want (something desired). — Hold the hands straight
out but elbows resting against the sides ; hold the palms up,
fingers slightly bent like the claws of an eagle ; bring the elbows
back, and hold hands as if drawing something toward you.
Not to want, Don't want. — Hold hands in similar position,
but instead of drawing back turn the hands upside down as if
dropping out whatever might be in them. IV, 77.
Wonder, Astonishment. — Throw the extended hands, up in
amazement. IV, 78.
Surprise.- — Close the thumb and forefinger of each hand, the
rest of the fingers also closed; place them directly in front oil
the eyes (one at either eye) ; suddenly open thumbs and fore-
fingers, representing motion of- opening the eyes suddenly and
show look of surprise. V, 79.
Satisfied. — With a slightly upward motion draw the middle
finger across the heart (feel) and then raise the hand till it
strikes the back under the chin. V, 80.
Contented (in sense of relief from anxiety). — Middle finger
drawn upward across heart (feel); then bring both hands
up, palms down, edge of forefingers against breast, ends touch-
ing; draw the hands down while still held against the breast,
as if pressing the disturbed feeling down. V, 81.
Dissatisfied, Discontented, etc. — Place the palm against the
breast and then shake the body with a twisting motion several
times, or make sign "satisfied" and "not."
Peace. — Clasp -hands (shake hands with yourself), then turn
them over and repeat in opposite direction; then bring hands
away from each other, palms down, as if stroking something
on either side in opposite directions. V, 82.
Excited. — Bring both middle fingers against the body at
the front, one on either side, and draw first one then the other
upward against the body and repeat, moving the hands alter-
nately, assuming a nervous manner.
Endure, Suffer (bear or carry a burden). — Press the fore-
finger against the lips; then move hands up the shoulder as
if holding the end of something resting thereon; bring the
shoulders and hands forward a little simultaneously as if
30 . THE SIGN LANGUAGE
carrying a burden. Some place the thumb in position of letter
"A" against the lips instead of the forefinger. V, 83.
Pity (feel sorry for). — Draw the middle finger upward
against the heart (feel), and then bring the open hand out
extended toward the imaginary object of pity, making a
kind of stroking or circular motion with the hand, as if giving
comfort. V, 84.
Earnest, Zealous, Industrious (giving the idea of enthusiasm
manifested toward object at hand). — Rub the open hands
together in an enthusiastic way, a slow or rapid manner in-
dicating the degree of earnestness. V, 85.
Scare, Frighten, etc. — Bring the "V" hands out to the front
and side with ends of fingers and thumb held together; throw
the hands toward the front of the body, and open them sud-
denly so the palms will strike flat and the ends of the hands
come about together, and with wide-open eyes exhibit fright-
ened look. V, 86.
Fear. — Throw the hands up as if warding off impending dan-
ger, and shrink back. V, 87.
Blush. — Draw the end of the forefinger down across the
lower lip to indicate the red color; bring the hand with thumb
closed against ends of fingers up to the side of the cheek, then
holding it easily against the cheek suddenly throw out the
thumb and fingers to indicate diffusion of color. V, 88.
Embarrassed, Bashful, Confused, etc. — Draw forefinger
down over the lower lip to indicate color (red), then placing
the hands one at the side of either cheek but away from them,
push them upward in a shaky motion till the ends are on a
level with the top of the head, indicating confusion.
Shame. — Place the backs of the fingers of one hand against
the cheek; bend head slightly against them; draw the fingers
up against the cheek, and straighten them with a motion of
throwing the hand off toward the person shamed. To indicate
self shame, place hands in same position, but draw the fingers
against the cheek with a twisting motion, and do not let it
leave the cheek, but draw the head back a little as if indicating
a shamed feeling. To express "shame on you," the hand is
thrown toward the person in an emphatic way while the eyes
condemn. V. 89.
Warm. — Hold the bent hand up to the mouth as if to blow
into it; with a slightly upward motion bring the hand away
slowly and bring the fingers open, one by one.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 31
If reference is had to the weather or atmosphere, draw the
forefinger (crooked) across the forehead. V. 90.
Hot. — Bring the hand up to the mouth with fingers crooked
as if ready to take something from it ; suddenly draw it away
and turn it over as if dropping something from it in haste.
Excessive summer heat is indicated by. same sign as for warm
(drawing forefinger across forehead) made with a good deal
Cold. — Draw elbows up at side with fists against the body
and shake the arms and fists. V. 91.
Humble. — Bring the "B" hand up to the mouth, placing it
perpendicularly edgewise against the lips ; draw the hand down
along the center of the breast and outward toward the side,
bending the head in humility.
Don't care. — Place tips of "and" hand on forehead, bring
away to one side and throw down with a jerk, opening the
hands. V, 92. Or,
(2) Place the end of the forefinger on the end of the nose;
bring it away partly to one side and throw down toward the
Note: This is a rather objectionable slang sign but much
used to designate lack 'of interest in, announcement that one
will have nothing to do with, and to say that one does not
want anything to do with.
Ambitious (anxious to put oneself forward). — Place the back
of the thumb of "A" hand against breast, and with a more or
less strong motion bring the hand up and outward, giving the
body a sympathetic motion to indicate pushing oneself for-
Note: The same sign with a wilful expression of countenance
and movement of the head is sometimes made to indicate wil-
fulness. The hand is held more firmly against the breast indi-
Engagement (in sense of a promise binding one, contract) . —
Bring the left "S" hand out with back of hand up; bring the
right "A" hand out toward it, and, describing a small circle
with the right hand, bring the right wrist down on the top of
the left wrist and rest as if the hands had become tied together.
When it is wished to indicate a betrothal, with the thumb and
forefinger of the right hand grasp imaginary ring on left ring
finger, then make sign for an engagement. Sometimes the
sign for "promise" precedes the sign for engagement.
32 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Jealous, Envy, etc.— Bite the end of the forefinger. To ex-
press specifically the idea of envy as different from jealousy
make sign for jealous, look toward imaginary object and make
sign for want; i. e., reach out hands as if ready to receive
something, fingers in grasping position upward, and draw
toward self. V. 93, 94.
Good-bye. — Place fingers of open hand on the lips and throAV
out hand as if throwing a kiss. The same sign is used indis-
criminately to greet one, thank one, and bid farewell; the cir-
cumstances indicate the meaning. V. 96.
Hungry- — Bring up hand with fingers and thumb slightly
bent, the ends against the breast; draw downward, the ends
of fingers and thumbs against breast, to indicate a gnawing
sensation. This sign is used to indicate strong desire for any-
thing when followed by sign for "want." V, 95.
Feet hurt. — Strike the heart with the end of the middle fin-
ger of the right "5" hand bent in toward the palm. Some-
times the hand is withdrawn and "flipped" downward.
Sympathy. — Make sign for "feel," then by a contraction of
the sign for agree, bring the hands together as in "with."
Avaricious. — Scrape the left palm with hand held out with
the fingers of the right, adding the sign for money — an "itch-
Anxious. — The half open left "bent" hand is held breast
high and the palm scraped by the fingers of the right. Or
express the idea by a combination of other signs, like "feel a
Faith, Confidence, Trust. — Place the end of the right "G"
finger at center of forehead (or on lips) as in "believe," then
lifting left open hand outward and upward, hang the right
hand on it by the end of the fingers. Or,
Instead of bringing the hands together as described, raise
both slightly toward the left, upward, with the left higher
than the right, and make motion of firmly grasping something
held toward you.
Patient. — Place the end of the right "G" hand on the lips,
press and at the same time bow the head as if in resignation ;
repeat latter motion once or twice.
Differ, Disagree. — Place the end of the right "G" hand at
center of forehead as in ""think," then bring the right hand
down and the left "G" hand up and out toward the left, bring-
ing the two sharply to a stop with ends of fingers directly
opposite, that is, pointing toward each other — at "dagger's
Belong to. — Link the two "O" hands and add sign of pos-
session, or "your."
MENTAL ACTION, LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICA-
TION OF IDEAS
Think. — Place the end of the "G" forefinger upon the center
of the forehead and move it a little with a circular motion.
Understand. — "With the right "G" forefinger bent or crooked,
bring the back of the nail against the center of the forehead,
draw the end of the finger upward and out until it is straight,
describing a parabola. VI, 98.
Idea.— Place the end of the little finger of the right "I"
hand against the middle of the forehead ; draw it away and
give it the least of a circular jerk upward. VI, 99.
Imagine. — Make a sign as in "Idea," but when finger is
drawn away, lift it upward in a continuous circular motion.
VI, 100. Or,
(2) Place the forefinger against the forehead as in "think"
and then lift the whole hand upward with the same motion
two or three times. VI, 101.
Dream. — Place the end of the forefinger upon the forehead
as in "think," then draw it away and upward, giving the fore-
finger a wiggling motion (bending and straightening alter-
nately, rapidly). The sign for "sleep" may be prefixed. VI,
Wise. — Crook the right "G" forefinger and lift the hand to
the forehead ; place the end of the finger at the top of the
center and move it downward across the forehead. VI, 103.
Science, or to indicate deep wisdom. — Place the forefinger
as in "think" or in "wise," hold the left hand out in front
of you with fingers extended and loosely apart ; bring the end
of the right forefinger from the head and pierce it through or
between the fingers of the hand, indicating that the wisdom
goes down deep. VI, 104.
Invent. — With the "G" forefinger pointing upward, place
the end against the middle of the forehead just above the nose
so the finger almost rests on the length of the nose ; push the
finger upward till the length of it has crossed the forehead.
34 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Learn. — Place the open palm of the left hand as if it were
a book or printed page in front of self; with the other hand
grasp imaginary knowledge from it with the fingers closing
against the thumb and raise it to the forehead. VI, 105.
Believe. — Place the end of the forefinger on the forehead as
in "think" (some place it on the lips) ; then, bringing the left
hand up half way to meet it, bring the hand from the forehead
and clasp both in front of you, palms together. VI, 106.
Doubt, to express incredulity. — Bring the "V" hand up in
front of the face with the fore and middle fingers bent toward
the end of the nose and held as if about to straddle it; bend
and unbend the fingers several times. VI, 107. Or,
(2) To express distrust or suspicion of one's intentions —
Place the fist well out at the side, partly in front, with the
elbow bent outward; throw the fist toward imaginary person,
repeating the motion several times. VI, 108.
(3) To express a wavering' or a doubt as to decision — Cross
one forefinger over the other and make a see-saw motion with
it, like a scale beam. Or,
(4) Hold the "A" hands just out from and below the shoul-
ders, with elbows raised and pointing outward; let the hanJs
rise and fall alternately as if they were scale pans. VI, 109.
Mind. — Tap the head Avith the finger.
Know, Intelligence. — Tap the forehead with the end of the
hand. VI, 110.
Don't know. — Touch the forehead as in "know," then throw
it outward, turning the hand with a twist of the wrist mean-
while. VI, 111.
Ignorant. — Tap the middle of the forehead with the backs
of the two fingers of the right "V" hand.
Feebleminded. — Place the ends of the two fingers of the
"V" hand or fingers of the "5" hand against the forehead;
push the hands so the fingers bend and unbend several times.
Crazy. — Place the forefinger of one hand on the forehead
as in "think," then bring it away, at the same time bringing
the other forefinger up so the two will point toward each
other, up and down, and whirl them in opposite directions
indicating the "wheels in the head." VI, 112.
Foolish, Silly.— Bring the "Y" hand up with the thumb
toward the forehead and the little finger pointing out; in that
position move -it across back and forth from right to left and
vice versa in front of the forehead several times. VI, 113.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 35
Note. — This sign, made by throwing the hand rather em-
phatically once across, is used indiscriminately in the sense
of absurd, trifling', and to indicate that something receives
Memorize. — Place forefinger on forehead as in "think;"
draw it away an inch or so and make grasping motion with
hand, palm before face. Or, instead of touching forehead with
finger, place open "C" hand before forehead and end as above.
Forget. — Draw the end of the hand across the forehead,
turning the fingers in toward the palm as you draAv it from
the forehead. VI, 115.
Remember. — Touch forehead with open right hand, bring
hand doAvn and form "A" with both hands (thumbs extended
slightly further out) and then place end of right thumb upon
the top end of the other as if holding it down. VI, 116.
Inform. — Place right hand as in "know," then carry it away
as if carrying away information, at some time bring up left
hand in similar position directly following or parallel with
right. VI, 117.
Tell. — Place the forefinger of "G" hand under the lower
lip, horizontally, then throw it out as if the finger were carry-
ing words out of the mouth.
To tell on one, Telltale, Gossip, etc. — Making a bill with
the thumb and forefinger bring it up with knuckle of forefinger
against the mouth, slightly at one side ; push it aAvay outward,
opening and closing the thumb and finger to imitate the move-
ment of the lips in talking. VI, 118.
Secret, Don't tell, etc. — Place nail of thumb of "A" hand
Be still, Keep quiet, etc. — Place forefinger against lips. The
idea is made emphatic by throwing the finger violently against
the lips, and may then be interpreted, "Shut up."
Quiet, Calm, Still, Noiseless. — Place the forefinger on the
lips; bring the other extended hand up in front of you, and
then bring the hand away from the mouth, extended, until it
is just over the other; then move both aA\ 7 ay in opposite direc-
tions toward the sides, palms doAvn. VI, 119.
Talk, Verbal, Speech, etc. — Place forefinger of "G" hand
under lower lip; horizontally draw it aAvay, giving it a rapid
circular motion in the air. VI, 120. Or,
36 THE SIGN LAN (SU AGE
(2) In sense of conversation. — Hold out both "G" hands in
front, forefingers pointing upward ; move both hands to one
side, and then to the other alternately several times or give
same motion toward the front from self. VI, 121.
Word. — Make "C" with right hand but close rest of fingers;
place the ends of the thumb and forefinger of the "C" hand
on the forefinger of left "G" hand, as if to measure its length.
Language, Sentence, etc. — Lock the thumbs and forefingers
of both hands together like the link of a chain; draw them
apart, giving both hands a chain-like shaking motion, in oppo-
site directions. VI, 122.
Explain, Tell about. — With forefingers and thumbs of both
hands extended, bring their ends all together so that the ends
lap over a little ; draw them apart and repeat the motion two
or three times.
Note. — This sign is used to mean the telling of anything,
asking for an explanation, and even in asking for a story ; some-
times for simply a story. VI, 123. Or,
(2) Describe. — With thumb and forefinger of both hands
making "0" (other fingers extended) bring them together;
move one hand out horizontally, bring it back and repeat the
motion with the other hand and repeat the motion several times.
Sentence. — Make same sign as in language but when the
hands are brought apart lift them up as if to indicate the be-
ginning with the left hand and the ending with the right.
News. — Bring the extended hands out in front of you, point-
ing toward each other, and then brush the back of the right
straight across (lengthwise) the palm of the left, and repeat
once or twice. VI, 125.
Show. — Raise the left extended hand palm out (as if
to swear) ; bring end of forefinger of "G" right hand up and
place it against the center of the palm of the raised hand, then
push both forward or around as if exhibiting to some one.
Teach. — Raise each of the hands to the corresponding side
of the head on a level with the eyes; close ends of fingers
against thumb (as in "&") ; push Hie hands straight out from
the head, and open the thumb and fingers, as if you had grasped
something from the head and thrown it out toward some one
else. VI, 127.
A MAKT'AL OF SICKS 37
Intend, Mean, Purpose. — Touch forehead with forefinger;
then bring hand down and place the ends of the fingers of the
"V" hand against palm of extended left; lift "U" hand off
and twist it around, bringing the ends back to the palm but
with positions reversed; the left hand may be slightly twisted
around in an opposite way. VI, 128.
Propose, Offer. — With extended hands close to you in front,
lift them out and forward as in the act of offering something
to some one.
Correct, Find fault.— Touch the tip of the forefinger of "G"
hand on tip of tongue and then proceed to scratch or cross out
an imaginary something on the palm of the left extended hand.
Criticise. — "With the forefinger of the right "G" hand mark
a cross on the left open palm.
Find fault. — Draw the forefinger and thumb of right hand
out of left "0" as if picking flaws out of one's character.
Refuse. — Hold the "S" hand out with elbow at side; jerk
the whole arm back with a sudden motion.
Excuse, Forgive. — Place the end of the right extended hand
in palm of left extended hand and move it along the length
of the hand and beyond. In asking forgiveness or one's pardon
the end of the right hand is rubbed back and forth in the same
motion, in palm of the left. VI, 129.
Duty. — Hold the left "S" hand with back up and strike
right "D" upon it two or three times.
"Have to," indicating Obligation. — Place both "S" hands
with wrists one above the other as if bound ; press them both
downward together. VI, 130.
Must, indicating Necessity and Need. — Crook the forefinger
of "G" hand, then turn it so the end points down; push the
hand downward; the downward motion is often repeated sev-
Blame. — Place the "A" hand upon the back of the extended
left thumb end up. To express the idea of accuse, while mak-
ing the sign extend both hands toward the person who is
blamed. To acknowledge oneself to blame, bring the sign
toward you, placing the hands almost against the breast. Inno-
cence is expressed by making the sign for "blame" and "not;"
or, as usual, opening the hands and dropping them away from
the position of the sign. VI, 131.
Ridicule, Make fun of, etc. — Extend the little and forefinger
of each hand ; hold the left hand in front toward the side ;
38 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
bring the end of the forefinger of the other hand up to the
corner of the mouth and draw it back a little way as if fol-
lowing the mouth in a smile ; bring the hand away and down,
somewhat "tandem" to the other, then throw the hands, with
the forefingers and little fingers pointing, toward the imaginary
object or person; repeat the last part of the sign several times.
Praise, Commend, Congratulate, Express approbation, etc. —
Extend left open hand out in front, palm up ; and clap it with
the open right. The sign for "good" sometimes precedes the
Glory. — Make similar sign as for "praise," then draw the
right hand away and upward from the left, the while working
the fingers (of the right only) up and down as if they were
throwing off scintillating beams of light.
Can, indicating Ability, Power. — Extend "S" hands forward
from the sides, thumb ends up with elbows against sides ; bring
both hands down with a jerking motion.
The sign for "strong" is very similar. The difference lies in
the way the hands are moved. For "strength" they are moved
somewhat sidewise with a slight circular motion.
Can't.— Extend forefinger of left "G" hand and strike it
crosswise with a downward stroke of the forefinger of right
"G" hand, carrying the right hand beyond as if cutting off
left. 1,4. Or, "can" and "not."
Note. — The first is colloquial and mq.re commonly used.
Try. — Hands in same position as for "can" ("S" hands ex-
tended from sides) then push them forward. VII, 133.
See, Sight. — Straddle nose with "V" hand held parallel to
it, placing the ends of fingers under the eye ; push the hand
away so the ends of the fingers will follow a straight line from
the eyes. IV, 53.
Look, Observe. — Hands in same position as for "see;" bring
the hand away, turning the fingers so that the ends point
toward the object. IV, 54.
Appear, Seem, Look like. — Bring the open right hand up
in front toward one side with the thumb edge toward self;
turn the hand so as to present the palm toward self and fix
the eyes upon it. VII, 134.
Write. — Imitate motion of writing with right hand on left
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 39
Letter. — Close right hand and extend thumb; wet the palm
end of thumb on tongue and then throw it against the
open left hand as if sticking on the stamp. (With end of
thumb representing a stamp, wet on tongue and stick it on
open left hand as on a letter). VII, 135.
Judge, Weigh a thing, Consider, etc. — Place end of finger in
center of forehead as in "think," then with hands assuming
"F" position, balance them on either side as if they were the
two sides of a pair of scales. VII, 136.
Decide, Determine, Render judgment, Make up one's Mind,
etc. — After balancing hands as in preceding sign, bring them
to an abrupt stop exactly opposite. Or touch forehead wi1h
forefingers, then bring the extended "0" hands down quickly,
opposite and on the same level.
Read. — Hold up the open left hand as the page of a book;
point right "V" finger at the top and then move hand down
as if following the page with the eyes.
Study. — Hold open left hand as the page of a book; point
all fingers of right hand at it ; push fingers toward and draw
away several times the while they are worked with a vibrating
motion. VII, 137.
Dunce. — Knock the joints of the fingers of right "A" hand
against the forehead.
Don't. — Hold up the extended right hand, palm outward;
with arm quiet give hand a vibrating motion from side to side
Postpone, Put off, Procrastinate, etc. — Hold out extended
"0" hand in front from side; lift slightly, push forward and
bring down; repeat the motion several times. This sign
may be made with both hands at the same time. VII, 138.
Begin, Commence, etc. — Extend left "H" hand palm slightly
toward you ; with a twisting or boring motion force forefinger
of right "G" hand through the "H" between the two finger?.
Habit, "Mental slavery." — Forefinger at forehead as in
"think," then bring "S" hands down, wrists one above the
other, expressing the idea of the mind or will being bound.
Resemble, Look alike. — Make sign for "appear" and then
bring forefingers of "G" hands down together, striking their
sides one against the other as in "same."
40 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Whisper, Speak privately. — Hold up the open hand, thumb
edge against one side of the mouth, and incline head slightly
toward one side.
Choose, Select. — Hold up left "V" hand and with right
thumb and forefinger make a motion of picking off first one,
then the other finger. To indicate that the choice is made,
indicate by the decisive motion that one of the fingers has been
Volunteer, Apply (for a place), Run for office, etc. — Catch
the lapel of the coat (or imaginary lapel) with thumb and fore-
finger or fingers against the palm, and lift up as if selecting
and offering oneself for service.
Trouble, Annoyance, etc. — Raise the right arm at the side,
hand above head, then bring in a semi-circle down before the
face ; follow this with similar movement by left hand the other
way and repeat it with each arm alternately.
Interrupt, Interfere with, Come between. — Bring left "C"
hand up with the opening of "C" toward self; throw the right
open hand edgewise between the thumb and forefinger, re-
peating several times.
Answer, Reply, Make response. — Place forefinger of left
"G" hand perpendicularly in front of you and end of fore-
finger of right "G" hand on lips; keeping them parallel, or in
same relative position one higher than the other, throw them
toward an imaginary colloquist, keeping the arms at rest,
or only slightly moved from elbow.
Suspect, Suspicion, Spy, etc. — Place end of forefinger of
"V" hand held perpendicularly under and against the front
teeth ; without moving the arms throw the ends of the fingers
outward, letting the forefinger slip away from the teeth. VII,
(2) Held the crooked forefinger of "G" right hand against
the forehead and make a scratching motion of the finger
against the forehead, drawing the finger away from the head
slightly ; repeat several times.
School. — Clap the hands together several times as a teacher
would in calling the attention of his pupils.
College. — Place the open right hand against the open left
one held palm up, then lift it up a few inches and, holding it
flatwise, describe a eircle above the left hand held quietly
where it is.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 41
Ask, prefer a request. — Place hands together in front, palms
together and ends pointing outward; draw hands toward self
and partly down, giving hands a more perpendicular position.
Pray. — Position of hands same as in preceding, but pointed
upward in usual attitude of prayer; draw toward self twice
Supplication.— Clasp fingers of right hand over "A" left;
extend upward toward heaven and draw earnestly toward
you. The same idea is expressed by clasping the hands, fin-
gers locked, and making same motion.
Question, To ask a question, To "quiz," etc. — With fore-
finger of "G" hand, palm side down, move toward imaginary
person and crook and uncrook it (imitating the motion of a
worm), repeating the motion several times. VII, 143.
Examination is sometimes expressed by making sign with
both hands and all the fingers extended, and hands thrown
forward as if "charging."
Call, Attract the attention of. — Hold open left hand out in
front, palm down and back slightly toward self; strike the
back with the open right hand and then beckon toward self.
Warn. — Sign for "call" and then hold up finger in warning
Name. — Extend "H" or "G" hands, throwing the right
hand fingers crosswise against the left, lifting them and letting
fall several times. To indicate the action of naming any one,
or to express that he is called so and so, place the fingers
crosswise as described, then keeping them in that position,
raise both hands and extend toward object or person named.
Promise. — Place forefinger of right "G" hand perpendicu-
larly against mouth; bring hand down and strike it (open)
against palm of left. Or,
(2) In nature of an oath — Place forefinger of "G" hand
held perpendicularly against lips and then bring hand up as
in taking an oath. VII, 145.
Advise, Advice, etc. — Place end of right "&" hand on back
of left open hand held up in front of you ; lift it away as if
taking up something with thumb and fingers, and move toward
imaginary person and open the hand as if throwing what it
might contain toward the person. VII, 146.
42 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Mistake. — Throw the middle joints of "Y" hand once or
twice against chin, so the chin is between the thumb and little
finger. VII, 147.
Discuss.— Throw the forefinger of right "G" hand on palm
of open left (as one often emphasizes his points) and repeat
Argue, Debate. — Eepeat preceding motion first with one
hand, then the other, to indicate that there are two parties
to the discussion.
Agree. — Place end of right "G" hand against center of
forehead; bring finger down in front pointing out, and bring
the other forefinger up alongside parallel to it but not touch-
ing. VII, 148.
Honor. — Point "H" toward imaginary person; draw hand
back toward you, lifting the end so that it describes a small
curve. VII, 149.
Respect. — Motion similar to above but use letter "R."
Admire. — Same as "like" but make more slowly and de-
liberately and add sign of honor.
Announce, Make known. — Place the forefingers of "G"
hands held horizontally under the lip, ends toward each other ;
throw hands out, letting them separate so the ends of the
fingers describe semi-circles outward. To indicate something
is published and announced in a newspaper, press hands palm
upon palm, horizontally to indicate motion of printing, and
then proceed as above. VII, 150.
Telegram, Telegraph. — Along the edge of the forefinger of
"G" hand held in front of you, imitate, with a crooked right
forefinger, the action of a sender in a telegraph instrument and
"shoot" along. VII, 151.
Telephone. — Raise "O" hand to the ear and then move to
the mouth; or, with the other hand, hold imaginary mouth-
piece at the mouth and make motion of ringing with right.
Confess. — Place ends of open hands at breast pointing down-
ward, palms in; draw up palms and turn them outward, as
if turning the hands wrong side out. VII, 152.
Deny. — Hold ends of thumbs of "A" hands up almost touch-
ing the mouth, and then draw them down and outward with
emphasis. VII, 153.
Book. — Open and shut the hands held together as the backs
of a book.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 43
Song, Poem. — Hold open left hand out, palm toward you;
with open right hand pointing toward and at right angles to
it, wave it back and forth several times. VII, 154.
Music. — Eaise right forefinger to ear; move "both hands,
palm down, out toward one side, with vibrating motion; wave
right open hand back and forth before palm of left hand.
Picture. — Draw "C" or crooked forefinger downward
against the face, and then for Photograph, the same, holding
open left hand up, place "C" against the palm, or just touch
the bridge of the nose with "C" hand and place on palm as
before. VII, 155.
Incline, Disposed to. — Touch the heart with the bent finger
of the right "5" hand (as in "feel"), then extend the left
open hand toward the left and bring the right open hand just
back of it also pointing toward the left; carry both hands
toward the left, thus indicating the inclination of one's feel-
Reason. — Place the right "E" hand against the center of
the forehead and give it a twisting turn without moving it
from its position.
Religion. — Place the right "E" hand against the heart,
then raise heavenward.
Character. — Place the right "C" hand against the heart
and draw it out a little; or, make the sign for "spirit" and
then with the two "A" hands indicate the outlines of the
Fool, Hoax. — Place the crooked forefinger of the right "G"
hand on the nose and give it a pull downward, bringing the
head down a little. VII, 156.
History. — Begin making the sign for "happen" over the
right shoulder and continue making it while the hands are
brought down from the shoulder to the front of the body. The
sign for "happen" is made as follows: Place the "G" hands
parallel in front, thumb up, and twist both at the same time
inward, bringing the thumb down. In carrying the hands up
to the shoulder to make the sign they will not be exactly in
this position, as they will point back and gradually be brought
down and into the position as described.
Scold. — Hold the forefinger of the right "G" hand up warn-
ingly and, resting the right forearm near the elbow on the
left hand, shake it at the imaginary culprit.
44 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Evade, Get "around, Avoid. — Holding the left "A" hand in
front, thumb up, place the right "A" hand in similar position,
behind it and nearer self; throw the right hand to one side
and then the other, giving it a twisting motion from the wrist.
Dumfounded, Confused, At a loss. — Hold the "5" hands
out pointing down, and then lower them a little with a jerk,
bringing the body and hands somewhat rigid.
Exaggerate. — Push the forefinger of the right "G" hand
upward across the forehead, straight up from the nose, the
length of the finger; then bring down the "&" hand and let
the end strike against the end of the left "&" hand pointing
up; give both hands a turn, reversing their position, and
drawing them apart now strike the right (which is now point-
ing up) with the left (which points down).
Bless.— Hold the "A" hands elevated in front, thumb to
thumb, but not touching; gradually open the hands to "5,"
drawing them to the sides and downward a little. VII, 157.
I I TO BE. EXIST ""'. 2 10 BE, INF. 3 CAN, POSSIBILITY U CANT ,, ; .:|5 MAyTeRHAPS
6 MA:. PERMliSIOlT?' MUST. NEED; 8 HAVE. POSSESS!' HAVE, FINISHED| 10 DO
fll WILL. SHALL 12 »0N'T 1» PRESENT
16 WE 17 ANYONE is ffH0 ... 19 THAT, RtL P80 20 THAT. DEM PRC
^FATHER-W-UW 1 *! MARRY j ■« HOME!
43 Love 144 H 45 tile A ~ Mite love to 4!
Funnj 69 Free. Safe 70 Obey 71 Disobey 12 }'
7 4 "°P ; 'S *ait 76 '*': h ;: „ . ~, ,. 7! Woo*
92 Don't Care 93 Jealous 94 Envy 95 Hungry % Good bye
97 Think '8 Understand 99 Idea WO Imagine 101 Imagine, Invent 102 Dream
103 Wise 104 Science 105 Learn 106 Believe 107 Incredulity 108
103 Wise 104 Science 105 Learn 106 Believe
. 109 Indecsion 110 Know 111 Don't Know 112 Crazy 113 Foolisn. Sillv 114 Memorize
**% *\ r*. - *\ C\ 1
115 Forget "6 Remember 117 Inlorm "* Tell
119 Oui't. Still 120 Talk. Speech
121 Conversation 122 Language 123 Explain 124 Describe US News ut>
n r I- I n r
!? leach 1281 ■ 29£xcuse,Foie»H30 Obligation Ridicule
133 Try / 3^ Appear / 3S Letter /g& Judge / 37 Study
(32 Postpone 13 f Begin /</" Habit /4/ Suspect' /n Ask
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IfV J To question / H f Call /f 5" Promise |z/ 4 Advise J 47 Mistake
/4« Agree /y? Honor /ro Announce /r/ Telegraph /so. Confess
/S"3 Deny /£</ Song, poem /*■$ Picture I5& Fool, hoax i$-} Bless
'*■£ Leave / 57 Receive ' t bo Send i<°l Progress /fc 2 - Improve
li>3 Advanced H>t Cars /^^ Ship /46Meet /6?Pass
IfcS Run /&?Fail /7a Fail ;7/ Succeed / 72 Accept
/7JPIay /7^Buy WSell /760we /77Become
/7*Kee P " /7fLi» /"Change . / 8/ Follow ^ Work
MOTION AND ACTION
Note. — In general it may be laid down as a rule that the
sign for an action should bear some resemblance to the natural
Go, Leave present place, Depart. — Make motion with finger
or hand away from the body. Also, hold left open hand in
front, palm toward breast; rest right hand on back of left
hand, remove, and motion outward. The latter is more cor-
rectly for "send."
Leave, Retire, Withdraw oneself. — Extend open hands,
palms down, out toward the left side, one farther toward the
left than the other, somewhat "tandem;" draw them bfick
toward the right side of the body and a little up, bending the
lingers down from the knuckles. VIII, 158.
Leave, Lie, Let alone, Neglect. — Hold the open hands out
toward the left side, palms toward each other, left hand ex-
tended farther than the other ; push the hands both forward
toward the side (or front), and stop with a jerk.
Give. — Bring out hand, make motion as of taking up some-
thing, and give to imaginary person.
Get, Obtain. — Eeach out left "S" hand and then make a
grab upon the top of it with the right.
Receive, Get (by the speaker). — Make similar motion but
at the same time draw hands toward you. VIII, 159.
Catch. — Same as for "get" but make the motion more
quickly. To catch a ball, represent motion of catching.
Carry, Bear from one place to another. — Reach open hands,
palms up, back beyond the right side, the right hand farthei
out than the left; imagine something having been put in 1he
hands and carry it to the front of the body and beyond to the
Bring, Convey toward oneself. — Eeach out open hands,
palms up, as if to receive something; then draw them back
Climb. — Imitate climbing with the hands, lifting one above
the other on imaginary tree.
Drive. — Hold imaginary lines and imitate driving.
46 THE SlGN LANGUAGE
Food, Eat.— Throw the "&" hand lightly against mouth and
repeat several times.
Feed (act of feeding).— Make sign for "eat" and then mak';
motion of giving food.
Drink. — Make motion of lifting a cup to the mouth, and
tilting it as in act of drinking. To drink, in sense of habitual
use of intoxicating liquor, throw the end of the thumb of the
"Y" hand up against the mouth and repeat several times.
The hand thus represents the bottle.
Send. — Place end of right open hand on back of left and
then throw it off, motioning outward, with "G" hand. VIII,
Progress, Motion forward. — Place bent hands in front of
you, the fingers pointing toward each other; move the hands
forward with a steady motion. To express the idea that the
progress is made in successive stages, lift the hands and move
forward a space, and repeat. VIII, 161.
Improve, Gradual progress upward. — Hold out left "B"
hand, forefinger edge up; place the little-finger edge of "B"
right hand crosswise near end of left forefinger; raise it and
drop it again on left hand a little farther up, and continue mo-
tion the length of the hand, and beyond, thus measuring off
spaces of advancement. VIII, 162.
Deterioration, DecHine, A falling off, etc. — Make similar
motion to above, but begin at about the elboAv, arm inclined
down, and move hand in opposite direction (down).
Advanced, Higher up. — Place bent hands in front, palms
down, fingers pointing toward each other; raise the hands;
if the progress upward is by stages, indicate by lifting the
hands a small space at a time. VIII, 163.
Travel. — Pointing the forefinger of the "G" hand out, push
it outward with a winding or slightly zig-zag motion. Or,
(2) Move the "G" hand, with the forefinger pointing
down, in a semi-circle, giving the finger a circular twirling
Cars. — Hold out the left "H" hand, back up; place the right
"H" flatwise on the knuckle of the middle and forefinger
of left, then push the right " H " along the other as on a track ;
repeat the last motion, drawing the right hand back and forth
several times. VIII, 164.
Railroad track. — Make sign for "cars," then with hand on
either side of you indicate width of a rail by opening thumb
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 47
and forefinger and push the hands along at the side to repre-
sent the rails.
Ship. — The thumb and two fingers are held up representing
the masts of a ship; then move hand so as to point fingers for-
ward and give hand motion of a ship rising and falling with
the waves. VIII, 165.
Walk. — Let the hands represent the feet, and with palms
down, lift and move them forward alternately as if they were
feet in the action of walking.
Ride. — Place the right forefinger and middle finger of one
hand astride the left "B" hand held edgewise; lift the hands
and let them fall, imitating motion of horse.
Wagon. — Place the "G" hands well out, fingers pointing
toward each other; describe circumference of front wheels
with the ends of the fingers; bring hands back and repeat for
Carriage. — Same as for wagon, then bring the hands, now
bent, up above the height of the head and move forward to
represent the carriage top.
Lead. — Grasp end of open left "B" hand, held forward, end
pointing out, with the thumb and fingers of the right, and
pull forward as in act of leading.
Push. — Hold the open hands up, palms out, and give an im-
aginary object a push.
Run away, Slip away, Leave clandestinely.— Hold out the
open left hand, palm down; push the right "G" hand under
it quickly as if following the motion of one getting away
under cover. Or,
(2) Hold open left hand as above, but pointing upward at
an angle of 45 degrees ; throw the right hand across the palm,
as before but pointing upward.
Meet.— Hold forefingers of both "G" hands opposite each
other, pointing upward; bring them together as if they were
two persons running together. VIII, 166.
Pass, Meet and pass by. — Make same sign as in foregoing,
but instead of striking the fingers together let them continue
beyond each other. Or,
(2) Pass an examination, Go by, etc. — Hold left "A" hand
out and right "A" hand a little behind it, thumbs np; push
the right hand lightly against end beyond the left in a way
that the thumbs pass parallel. VIII, 167,
48 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Run. — Hold the open left hand pointing out (edgewise) ;
hold the open right hand back of it, pointing down ; throw the
right hand forward rather quickly so the palm brushes across
the palm of the left. VIII, 168.
Throw. — Make feint of throwing.
Swim. — Eepresent action.
Fly (also wings). — Place ends of open hands on shoulders,
move out and make motion of wings in flight.
Stand. — Stand "V" in palm. (Here the fingers represent
Fall. — Place hands as above, then let the hand fall over.
Rise, Get up (from a fall or from a lying posture). — Lay
"V" back down, in palm of hand, and lift it to a standing
Fail, To have one's work fail. — Hold open hands upon a
level with the chin one above the other; let them fall, rolling
over each other in the descent. VIII, 169. Or,
(2) To fail in an attempt, To have one's "pins taken from
under him." — Stand "V" on the palm; suddenly throw out
the ends, and let the "V" fall on the palm so the thumb strikes
it. VIII, 170. Or,
(3) Throw the back of the right "V" hand against the
upturned palm of the left hand and slide it along the length
of the hand outward.
Succeed. — Place the forefingers of the "G" hand in front
of you, one above the other and pointed in opposite directions ;
raise the hands, revolving the fingers around each other. VIII,
Accomplish, Win out. — Same position and similar motion,
but raise the hands quickly and give but one revolution of
the fingers, and finish with sign for "get." Or,
(2) Indicative of a continual "getting;" make the sign
for "get," and repeat it several times while you raise the
Jump. — Stand "V" in the palm; draw hand back a little,
bending the fingers as the legs are bent when about to spring;
throw the hand forward, bringing the fingers out straight.
Observe that the fingers of "V" imitate the motion of the
legs in jumping and the hand the body.
Offer. — Hold out the hands toward imaginary person as in
act of offering something.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 49
Accept. — Hold out hands as if ready to receive something;
then close hands while drawing them back toward you and
turn ends almost against body. VIII, 172.
Move, Motion from one place to another. — Eeach hands out
toward one side, pick up imaginary object with thumb and
fingers, and lift it over to the other side.
Meeting, Assembly, Gathering. — Hold out the slightly bent
"5" hands, well in front at the sides; draw the hands together,
closing them so the ends of the fingers and thumbs all meet
together in front of you.
Play, Recreation, etc. — Hold "Y" hands out in front so
the "horns" of the "Y" on one hand point toward those on
the other; shake both hands up and down from the wrists
repeatedly, moving the forearm, but slightly. The same sign
when followed by sign for "meeting" is used to signify a
party. To signify a play at the theater or acting, hold "A"
hands in front, perpendicular; move up and down alternately.
The open hand may also be used instead of the "A" hand.
Take. — Eeach out the hand, grasp imaginary object and
draw it toward you.
Copy. — Holding the left open hand as a slate or paper, reach
out the right "5" hand, close the ends of the fingers and
thumb as if taking off something from imaginary page, and
then withdraw hand and place it on left palm.
Buy. — "With the right hand as if holding money between the
thumb and fingers place it, back down, in the palm of the left
and then reach the right hand out as if offering the money to
some one. VIII, 174.
Sell. — With thumbs and fingers together, as if holding some-
thing, lift the hands up in front so the ends will bend from
the wrists and point down; without moving the arms give the
hands a shaking motion outward. VIII, 175.
Owe, To indicate something is due another.— Place the end
of forefinger of right "G" hand in palm of the left held up-
ward; in this position move both hands forward toward im-
aginary person. To indicate the debt is due to oneself, with
hands in similar position draw thorn toward you. VIII, 176.
Demand, Require of some one. — Same motion as in last
sign, but hold the hand well out and throw the end of the
finger somewhat forcibly on palm, drawing the hand back
50 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
quickly. Some add motion of forefinger, pointed down and
drawn forcibly toward self.
Hesitate. — Hold " G " hand with forefinger pointing upward ;
move forward, stop suddenly, and repeat motion in a halting
manner. Some make sign as in "doubt."
Become. — Hold open hands out, one a few inches above the
other, palms toward each other ; turn both hands at same time
so as to reverse their positions. VIII, 177.
Keep, Take care, Be careful with. — Hold left "V" hand with
ends of fingers pointing outward, forefinger up. With right
hand in similar position place it on the other so that the little-
finger edge of right hand rests on forefinger edge of left and
all four fingers extend out one above the other (or crosswise) ;
raise the right hand a little and throw it down again ; repeat
several times. To indicate great care, move the hands together
slowly up and down, or giving them a circular motion; throw-
ing the hands together in this position warningly at one is to
indicate the idea one had better look out. VIII, 178.
Find. — Reach out "5" hand; draAv ends of forefinger and
thumb together as if picking up something, and raise hand.
Lose. — Place finger nails of bent hands together, back to
back, so the ends of the fingers point upward ; swing the hands
down and separate till the fingers come straight. VIII, 179.
Change. — Hold the "A" hands out opposite one another,
thumb side up, several inches apart, with a kind of twisting
motion ; change the position of the hands so the left will come
over toward the right and the right under toward the left.
Pick. — Merely represent action of picking something off an
Select, Pick out. — Eeach out the right hand over left open
hand and with the thumb and forefinger pick out an imaginary
Chase, Follow.— Place the "A" left hand out in front, and
the right "A" hand directly behind it, thumbs pointed up;
move both forward tandem fashion. It is usual to give the
following hand a peculiar twisting motion from the wrist to
indicate, probably, that it is the one pursuing. To indicate
a chase more or less hard and long drawn out, indicate by em-
phatic motion or repeating the sign and twisting both hands
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 51
Work. — Throw right "A" hand down against the left "A"
hand two or three times so that the lower side of right wrist
strikes the top side of left wrist. (With both hands in posi-
tion of "A" throw wrists together.) Same sign followed by
"much" signifies "busy." VIII, 182.
Wait on, Serve, etc. — Hold out open hands, palms up, as if
holding a tray; move hands from side to side simultaneously,
first in one direction, then the other.
Distribute. — Bring the closed hands with ends quietly
touching each other before body ; throw them outward so each
describes a semi-circle in opposite directions, opening the
hands, palms up.
Contribute. — Drop into an imaginary receptacle an imagin-
ary coin, first with one hand and then with the other.
Happen. — Bring the "G" hands in front held parallel and
pointing out with " G " up ; turn the hands with a quick mo-
tion so that the forefingers twist inward, bringing the backs
of the hands up. The same sign also signifies "accident."
Make. — Hammer the top of one fist with the other two or
three times, giving both hands a twisting motion. IX, 184.
Arrange, Put in order. — Bring the open hands out toward
the front side, palms toward each other, several inches apart,
and ends pointing out ; keeping them in same relative position
move them along in front of you to the other side, giving them
a slight up and down motion. IX, 185.
Ready. — Same as above; then sign for "finished."
Prepare, Get ready. — Express by making sign for "make"
and "ready;" or, "arrange" and "before."
Introduce. — Extend one open hand out (palm up) toward
the front side and the other hand toward the other side and
then bring the hands toward each other. (Each hand repre-
sents a person introduced.) The idea of a simple introduction
may be expressed by using simply one hand.
Invite. — First touching the left forearm or back of left hand
with right palm, the hand is extended out toward an imaginary
person, palm up, and then drawn toward you.
Attend, Give attention to. — Place the hands at either side
of the head like blinders on a bridle ; move the hands forward
to indicate that the sight is to be confined within those limits.
52 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Appoint. — Keach out the hand toward the side and pick out
an imaginary person with the thumb and forefinger and lift
him over to a position in front of you.
Vote.— With ends of the thumb and forefinger together,
put them in "0" of other hand. Elect is indicated by making
sign for "vote" and then "appoint" to indicate the appoint-
ment was by ballot.
Graduate. — Hold left open hand out, palm up, and circle it
with the fist and bring fist on palm (indicating paper with
seal) and add sign for "retire."
Steal. — Hold out left hand pointing out edge down; reach
right hand (or left "A" hand) under wrist, grasp imaginary
object and draw it back. IX, 187.
Help, Aid, Benefit, Give assistance. — Place the right open
hand under left "A" hand and lift it up.
Support, Uphold. — Similar motion but use the right fist;
place it under the left forearm and lift as in position of a pillar.
Sit. — Extend open hands, palms down; push downward. Or,
place the right "U" hand over the edge of the left extended
hand, bending the fingers as a bird 's claws when it is perched.
Rule, Control, Govern, Exercise authority over. — Place left
"A" hand in front of you is grasping attitude, with back up
and thumb pointing toward the body; reach out right "A"
hand from side, open it and extend out and around in semi-
circle toward left, palm down. IX, 188.
Stay. — Bring both "A" hands in front and place ends of
thumbs together, one above the other, and give downward
pressure of hands together.
Plant. — Drop imaginary seeds from hand as it is moved
along. Usually make sign for "seed" first, by closing the right
forefinger and thumb; strike ends several times along the ex-
tended left forefinger.
Sow: — Merely imitate the motion of sowing.
Grow. — Hold the right "&" hand with finger ends up;
bring the left hand and close around it so the ends of the fin-
gers will be just beloAv the "0 ;" push right hand up through
the "0" as if plant was coming above the ground, and spread
out the fingers, making "5" hand as they come up through.
Harvest. — Beach out left hand and grasp imaginary stalks
of grain and with the forefinger of right crooked like a sickle
make motion of cutting stalks.
A MANUAL Ob' SIGNS 53
Mow. — Place right '5" hand on left and imitate motion of
sickle in mowing.
Ornament, Adorn, etc. — Place closed hands together so the
ends of the fingers all meet; separate and put them together
again, giving both hands a twisting motion, and raising them
at the same time ; repeat several times.
Punish. — Holding the left hand out as if holding imaginary
culprit, bring the right 'G" hand down as if using a switch oh
Come. — Make motion as if motioning for some one to come
to you, using both hands. Or, draw both "G" hands from
side toward self, fingers pointing toward each other.
Continue. — Same position as in "stay," but let the motion
be outward instead of downward, thus showing idea of con-
Disappear.— Place the right "5" hand with the fingers
brought slightly together pointing up so the back rests in
"C" of the other hand, let the hand slip down through the
"C" and as it does so close it till when the right hand is
gone the left hand will be making "0." IX, 190.
Melt, Fade, Die out, Dissolve, etc.— Hold up both "5"
hands, fingers pointing up, palms toward you; let the hands
drop gradually, drawing the ends of the fingers to position
of "&." IX, 19L
Live. — Place both "5" hands against the body at waist one
toward either side, thumbs up ; draw hands upward, remaining
against the body. IX, 192.
Breathe. — Place hands on chest, move them out and back
against body, imitating action of lungs in breathing.
Die. — Hold out the open right hand in front from the side,
palm down; give the hand an outward turn, bringing the
palm up. IX, 193.
Dead,— Is indicated by "die" and "finished."
Bury.— Make motion of digging, one hand as a spade ; then
bring the top edges of the hands together, with them forming
the mound on a grave.
Destroy.— Hold out both "5" hands, one above the other in
front, palms facing; bring the hands together, closing them
as if grasping something, so when they come together they
meet closed fingers against fingers; rub the top hand across
the lower as if grinding or mashing whatever was between to
54 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
atoms, bring hand back across and finally open both hands
Burn, Fire, Indicating flames.— Hold out the bent hands,
backs down, raise them alternately, working the fingers to
represent the motion of the rising and falling flames. IX, 194.
Decrease, Gradually grow smaller. — Hold the open hands
out, one down and the other quite a distance above it, palms
facing; gradually draw the hands toward each other, giving
them a bellows-like motion. IX, 195.
Borrow. — Make sign for "Give to me to keep."
Lend. — "Give you, keep."
Tease, Persecute.— Push fingers of right "A" hand over
(lengthwise) the top of thumb in left "A" hand.
Seek, Look for- -Move "C" in front before the breast or
face, describing a circle from right to left. IX, 196.
Collide, "Run up against it." — Hold the hands in front ;>n
opposite sides, the thumbs and middle fingers bent at the joint
and held toward each other; bring the hands quickly togethe;:
so that the fingers come violently together.
Struggle, Indicating trying to overcome obstacles. — Position
of hands as they come together as above ; then rub them across
one way and then the other in effort to push each beyond the
Cry. — Place the ends of the forefingers on the face belovv
the eyes and rub down as if tracing tears.
Cry out, Yell. — Place the "C" hand at the mouth as if re-
ceiving the sound; draw away the hand, continuing the mo-
rion as if drawing the sound out of the mouth.
Sign, To make signs. — Place the "G" hands in front, o',e
higher than the other, pointing them upward at an angle of
45 degrees; move the upper hand from front to back and
the lower from back to front, bringing each then to original
position ; the motion of both hands is similar to a braiding
Sign (to sign a document). — Make sign for write, then slap
the end of the open right hand down in one corner of the palm
of the other in the place where the name is usually signed.
Stop. — Strike the upward turned palm of the left open
hand with the lower edge of the right open hand. IX, 198.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 55
Intercept, Prevent, Check motion or advance. — Hold the
open hand up, palm toward self, or turn the back toward the
direction from whence the motion is supposed to proceed, and
then moving it toward self strike and stop it with the lower
edge of the right open hand.
Procession, etc. — Hold the "V" hands front, ends up, one
behind the other; push them forward, keeping them tandem,
and repeat the motion several times.
March. — Place the "4" hands with fingers pointing down,
one before the other; move the fingers forward, bending them
in unison from the knuckles and moving the hands but slightly
forward. The idea is the fingers represent legs keeping time
Hurry. — Push "H" hand rapidly forward, giving the "H"
an up-and-down motion all the time.
Fast, Quick, Indicating rapidity of motion. — Place the thumb
and forefinger as if ready to shoot off a marble ; hold up the
left "B" hand pointing upward; making motion of shooting
a marble and pass the hand while doing so quickly against
and across the palm of the other ; sometimes merely the marble-
shooting motion is made in the air.
Strike. — Merely strike the palm of one hand with the fist
of the other. Or,'
(2) To indicate the striking of a clock tap the forefinger
against palm, imitating motion of striker.
North, South, East and West are indicated by moving "N"
hand toward the north for north, the "E" hand eastward
for east, and so on for the other directions.
Deflect, Go off the track, Deviate. — Hold the forefingers to-
gether parallel, pointing outward, then suddenly turn one
away and push it out from the other.
Approach, Motion toward. — Place the partly bent left hand
in front rather toward the left side, forefinger edge up ; place
the bent right hand same position, pointing other way, be-
hind it but several inches back toward right side, and gradu-
ally let it approach the one in front. IX, 199.
Arrive, Reach. — Begin motion as above and next let the
hands go forward and one fall into the palm of the other, and
then hold the hands forward, palms up.
Discharge, Expel, Remove from employment. — Hold up the
forefinger of left "G" hand and with the forefinger of other
56 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
hand knock it down. Or, hold up left hand similarly and
knock down. The former sign carries a suggestion of malice
or vindictiveness. IX, 200.
Subtract, Take away from, also denoting Absence or Defi-
ciency. — Hold open left hand with palm toward self; throw
the ends of the fingers of the other hand with a scratching
motion downward against the palm of left, drawing it down
and away from the hand as if taking off something.
Add, Increase. — Place the "&" hands, one on other, fingers
meeting; let the right hand rise and fall against the left, lift-
ing both up meanwhile.
Cause, Effect, Produce. — Hold the "A" hands up toward
the right shoulder, thumbs pointing outward; carry the hands
diagonally across in front of; you and open fingers to make a
motion of emptying the hands, IX, 201.
To bear, Bring' forth, Be born. — Place the open hands near
the body, one palm against back of the other, palms toward
self and slightly upward; push the hands outward. To indi-
cate bearing fruit, push right "5" hand up through left, closed
over it, and let it then drop on the left hand.
Power, Strength. — Hold out the fists in front from the sides,
elbows at sides; lift the fists toward the right, and throw
them over the left with a circular or swinging motion and
bring them down; keep them in the same relative position as
to distance and direction of motion all the time.
Weakness. — Place ends of "V" standing in palm of hand;
bend the fingers so the hand falls toward the palm.
Influence, Cause, Effect by force or persuasion. — Place the
"A" hands out a little, thumbs pointing upward, one well
in front and the other behind but off at one side; turn the
hands so that the thumbs finally point outward, moving both
hands simultaneously. IX, 202.
Influence, by example.— Hold "A" (left) in front, thumb
up; place end of "&" hand on end of thumb, then push it out
and away, diverging the fingers at the same time. IX, 203.
Urge. — Hold out the "A" hands, thumbs pointing out and
the crook in forefinger pushing out somewhat; push the hands
out and draw back quickly, repeating the motion several times.
Trade, Substitute, Exchange for. — Place the "A" hands in
front, one directly behind the other, thumbs pointing up, one
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 57
hand down and under the other, then up on the other side, at
the same time changing the other hand in the opposite direc-
tion so that the hands change relative positions. IX, 204.
Use, Useful. — Hold the left open hand out, palm up, but
hand slanting 45 degrees; place the palm of the right open
hand against the lower edge of left, so that the fingers touch
the back of it; bring the right hand around and let palms
touch palms, but do not move left hand; repeat several
times. IX, 205.
Try, Effort put forth. — Hold "A" hands out in front; push
them both forward with an apparent effort.
Act, Conduct, Deed. — Place bent hands in front from the
side, fingers bent and pointing down; move them apart and
then toward each other quite actively and give them a shaking
motion. Some move hands, in same direction all the time from
side to side. This is more particularly mere conduct, while
the former indicates activity.
Mix, Mingle in confused mass, Confusion. — Bend the fin-
gers of "5" hands into claws, and hold them, one above the
other, fingers toward each other, and turn them in a circular
motion, but in opposite directions, mixing the fingers. IX,
Revenge, Retaliate, Pay one back. — "With thumb and fore-
fingers in pinching position, throw them together so the fingers
(closed) strike at the same time the thumbs and forefingers
touch. IX, 207. Or,
(2) More specifically Retaliation, or to make return. — Hold
the "0" hands one behind the other, the fingers of the "O"
up; change their relative positions by drawing one down,
under and up beyond the other. The sign is frequently made
in the air by right hand alone, merely throwing it down with
Complete, Finish, Bring an end to anything. — Place right
"B" hand with lower edge at right angles across the top
edge of left "B" near the wrist; push it along the edge of the
hand till it reaches the end, then "chop" it off. I, 9.
Beat, Defeat, Win over.— Hold out left "A" hand, thumb
pointing up; holding the other hand in similar position some-
what back, bring it forward against the other and push them
both over, indicating the one had overcome the other. X,
58 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Scold, Reprove. — Hold up the right "G" hand and shake
the finger at ; the left hand is sometimes held down at the
elbow or against forearm of the right while the shaking is
Wage war. — Hold out both ''4" hands with fingers point-
ing toward each other, back of fingers up, push the hands
to one side, the right following the left, then to the other side
and vice versa.
Fight. — Knock the fists against the sides of the face, or be-
fore the face.
Command. — Holding up the left open hand, pointing up-
ward, throw the forefinger of right "G" hand against it
crosswise so the finger will point outward, and throw out
forefinger forward as in sign for "tell." X, 209.
Order (to give a command). — Hold the end of the fore-
finger of the right "G" hand at the mouth, under the lower
lip, give it a slight twist outward as in "speak," then elevate
toward the right side, carrying the hand as far out as the
shoulder, and as high as the head, then turn the hand so the
palm is out and throw the hand forward and down. The
hand stops before it goes clear down and the forefinger bends
Contest (between opponents, more or less bitter). — Hold
the "G" hands in front, palms toward self, end to end, a
foot apart; move both together toward left side, then toward
the right side, keeping their relative positions. Repeat motion
several times. X, 210.
Contest, Rivalry, Race. — Hold the "A" hands out in front,
thumbs up, and side by side ; push the right hand outward
to front and at the same time draw the left back; then the
left forward and right back; and so on, repeating the motion
several times. X, 211.
Persevere, Persist, Continue in action.— Draw the "B" hands
up from the sides, palms down, and let the forefingers strike
together, side by side, with ends of the hands pointing out-
ward; separate and strike together again while the hands
continue to be moved outward.
Note. — The same idea could be expressed by signing for
"suffer" or "bear" and "continue," but the latter would
indicate more a mental action.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 59
Give up, Lose hope, Discouraged. — Hold the "A" hands
in front, thumb toward thumb; lift the hands slowly, open
them to position of "5" and simultaneously with the action
draw the head and shoulders back somewhat. X, 212.
Surrender. — Hold hands same as above, but drop them and
open to " 5. "
Abandon (throw aside). — Same position of hands, but throw
them at the side as if casting something away.
Assume (to take hold of a project or business). — Reaching
out both hands at the same time, make a grasping motion
as if taking up something and lift the hands somewhat. At
first the hands are open and they assume the "S" position
as they are lifted. Add motion of lifting the burden upon the
shoulders to indicate taking the responsibility.
Accuse (to "call," as when we "throw it at" one that one
is so and so). — Pointing the "G" hand out, push it toward
imaginary person with a "digging" or thrusting motion.
Note. — If the speaker is accused, the finger is turned toward
Connect with, Join to. — Holding the bent "5" hands out,
draw them together joining the thumbs and forefingers like
the link of a chain.
Disconnect, Part from. — With hands in position as at close
of above sign, drop the hands apart.
Defend, Protect. — Hold the "S" hands out in front so the
left shall be near the body with the thumb inside and the
elbow elevated to the same level as the hand, the right in
similar position but just beyond it on the outside ; as soon as
the hands are brought into position they are given a slight
resisting motion outward. Sometimes the sign is completed
by changing the right hand to open, and with palm out both
hands, the right on outside, moved from left to right as if
warding off danger. X, 213.
Rise (from a low to a high estate or condition.) — Hold the
right "A" hand out rather low, thumb up, and gradually ele-
vate it, giving it a shaking motion from the wrist without
giving the arm any motion from side to side. X, 214.
Sink (1<> fall from a high to a low estate). — Reverse the mo-
Rise, Appear (come up unexpectedly). — Holding the left
open hand out in front, bring the right "Q" hand under it
60 THE iilUN LANGUAGE
and thrust the forefinger up between the middle and third fin-
gers of the left hand rather suddenly.
Shut, Close. — Strike the open hands together, forefinger to
forefinger, their entire length.
Open. — "With hands in position closed as above, draw them
Note. — To open or close a -window, place the hands, the left
pointing toward the right, and the right toward the left, then
strike the little finger edge of the right against the forefinger
of the left, for "shut." For "open" or "raise," place the
hands together as above and then raise the right away from it.
Injure, Harm. — Hold out the left 'A" hand and across the
thumb strike the right "A" hand outward so the backs of the
fingers and knuckles rub against the thumb rather forcibly.
A slight injury may be indicated by making the motion easier
andrepeating it once or twice. X, 215.
Kill. — Holding the left open hand out, pointing upward, and
palm toward the right, thrust the right "G" hand outward, so
the side of the forefinger strikes against the palm as the finger
passes it and continues across the palm ; give the forefinger a
twisting motion. Note that the motion is one . of stabbing.
Some follow with the sign for "die," turning the open hand,
palm up, off toward the side. X, 216.
Expand. — Holding the bent "5" hands near together and
palm to palm draw them apart toward the side in a way to
indicate increasing size.
Condense, Make brief. — Hold the "C" hands out and bring
them together so the right comes just above the top of the
left and when they touch (the little finger of the right along the
forefinger of the left), close the hands to "S."
Separate, Draw apart. — Place the bent "B" hands with
backs of the fingers together and draw apart toward the sides.
Fish. — Sign for the animal "fish," place the end of the left
open hand against the right forearm with the right hand ex-
tended outward, move the right hand from side to side like
the tail of a fish in swimming ; then make motion as if lifting
a fish-polo in the hands.
Hunt. — Make motion as if holding a gun in the hand and
pulling the trigger, repeating the motion and moving the
imaginary gun from side to side.
.1 MANUAL OF SIGNS 61
Earn. — Holding the left open hand out, palm up, place the
right "C" hand upon it and scrape it across the palm toward
self. X, 217.
Save. — Hold hands somewhat close to self, repeat the motion
above, then while turning palm of left hand toward self and
making a pocket with it and the body, thrust the right "&"
hand into it.
Spend. — Lay the back of the right "&" hand in the open
left; push the right out across the left into position of "5."
Lie, Recline. — Lay the back of the right "V" hand in the
palm of the open left. Sometimes the right hand is also drawn
a little toward self.
Rest. — Fold the arms across the breast.
Aspire, Aim toward securing an object. — Place the end of
the forefinger of the right hand at the side of the forehead
just above the eye, and hold the left "G" hand out, forefinger
pointing upward ; bring the right forefinger away from the
forehead and carry it to and strike the end of the left fore-
finger with its end. This also indicates purpose.
Fine, Charge. — Place the end of the forefinger of the right
"G" hand against the open left hand, palm up; draw the right
hand away, crook the finger, and strike the end of the joint
downward against the palm of the open left hand, now turned
toward self, allowing the right hand to pass down past the
Tax. — Strike the end of the forefinger of the right "G"
hand in the upward turned palm of the open left several times.
Revive, Bring up something from the past. — Reach the hands
back over the right shoulder and grasp imaginary object and
drag it forward.
Hide. — Place the thumb of the right "A" hand against
the mouth, then bring it down and place it under the left bent
hand held in front, palm down; the left hand rests on the
right at the end of the sign.
Seek, Investigate. — Move the right "C" hand in front of
the face in a circle from right to left, keeping the "C" side
toward the face ; keep the motion continuous for a little while.
Depend. — Suspend the right "G" hand by the forefinger
upon the edge of the left open hand, palm held toward self.
Suspend, Hang. — Crook the forefinger of the right "G"
hand and make motion of hanging it on an imaginary nail.
62 THE XIGN LANGUAGE
Sleep. — Draw the right "5" hand down across the length of
the face, touching the palm against it.
Wake. — Place the closed "0" hands at the side of the eyes
(one on either side) and quickly open the thumb and forefinger
thus representing the opening of the eyelids.
Scatter. — Draw the "&" hands up against the breast, end
to end, then throw them both outward toward the side, open-
ing the hands to "5".
Beg, Ask Alms. — Hold out the right hand as a beggar does
and draw it toward self several times, bending the fingers to-
ward you at the same time. Repeat several times.
Wash. — Rub the "A" hands, fingers across fingers, as one
does in rubbing clothes in the wash. If it is to wash the hands
or face simply imitate these actions in natural signs.
Accompany. — Make the sign for "with" and move it for-
ward indicating motion forward. To express the idea of wan-
dering around with move the hands forward in a sort of zig-
Compare. — Holding the open hands outward and lifted at
an angle of 45 degrees, breast high, palms opposite, bring
them inward and up before you side by side as if looking at and
comparing the palms.
Found, Establish. — Holding out the left hand, palm down,
carefully lift the right "A" hand and set it upon the back of
the left as if placing something there firmly.
Foundation. — Make the sign for building upward and then
place the right "A" hand as above.
Cut. — With the right " H " hand as a pair of scissors imitate
the action of cutting, using the end of the left hand to repre-
sent what is cut. Or with the right "H" hand representing
the blade of a knife make a motion downward with it as if
cutting off something.
Scissors. — Open and close the two fingers of the right "H"
hand imitating the action of scissors blades.
Weigh. — Hold the two "F" hands out breast high, as if bal-
ancing them and then raise and lower them alternately as if
they were the balances of a pair of scales. Or, place the fore-
finger of the right "G" hand across that of the left "G" hand
and let it bend, first on one side and then on the other as if
Temptation, Tempt.— Holding the left forearm toward, but
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 63
not quite against, the body just above the waist, tap the fore-
arm well over near the elbow with the end of the finger or the
right "G" hand. To emphasize the verb form after the sign
above hold out the right hand and motion with the finger as
if calling some one to come.
Ascend. — Make the natural motion of lifting the right hand
upward, bringing the ends of the fingers pointing upward at
Shave, Razor. — "With the right "Y" hand representing the
razor and the thumb the blade, draw it down one side of the
face as in the act of shaving.
Beard. — Draw the hand, (fingers on one side and thumb on
the other) down the sides of the face.
Sew. — Imitate the action of sewing in natural signs.
Thread, String. — Grasp the end of the little finger of the
horizontal "I" hand with the thumb and forefinger of the
right hand and then draw it away as if drawing thread from
Rope. — Grasp the little finger as above but with the fingers
of the right "R" hand and continue the right hand as "R"
in bringing it away. * • s
Needle. — Place the end of the thumb of the right hand at the
knuckle of the left and the ends of the forefingers together so
that the thumb and forefinger of the right hand forms an arch
along the edge of the left forefinger. Draw the right thumb
and forefinger together along the edge of the left till they
Button. — Push the end of the right thumb up through or
between the first two fingers of the left hand with a twist and
continue twisting the thumb.
Automobile. — Make motion of steering an auto. There are
variations of this sign according to locality. Some make sim-
ply the sign for "machine" that is, with the fingers of the
hands locked together in a position of the cogs of a wheel, they
are given several half turns together up and down.
Tent. — Illustrate the shape of a tent with the two "V" hands
with ends of fingers together as the apex. With an outward
and downward motion represent an extension of the sides of
Camp. — Make the sign for "tent" several times to indicate
a number of camps.
OCCUPATIONS OF MANKIND
In indicating the individual following any occupation, make
the sign for that occupation and add the sign for "-er," as fol-
lows : Bring the open hands, palms near the body and fingers
pointing forward but inclined toward each other at an angle
of 45 degrees, up to the breast; with the palms against the
body, press them downward, indicating thus the individual.
Law. — Hold up open left hand, fingers up, pointing the
thumb toward you; lift up the forefinger of right "G" hand
and throw it against the palm of the left near the end of the
fingers; strike the palm this way several times but each time
striking it lower down. For "lawyer" add sign above de-
scribed for "-er." XI, 219.
Preach. — Hold up the right "F" hand above the shoulder
slightly forward and out; in this position throw the hand out
and down, toward an imaginary audience. For "preacher"
add "-er." XI, 220.
Teach. — Hold up " & " hands, one on either side of the head
opposite the temples; push them outward, opening them; re-
peat the action several times. "Teacher," add "-er."
Lecture, Orator. — Hold up the open hand to the side and
front, as a speaker does in making a gesture ; bring it down
diagonally a little toward the other side and repeat motion
several times. "Lecturer," add "-er."
Cook. — Place right hand on palm of left and turn it as if it
were a pancake. "Cook" (one who cooks), add "-er."
Baker. — Would be literally "bread maker;" make sign for
bread by holding bent left hand in front; with the right "B"
hand used as knife, make act of cutting across backs of fin-
gers; then imitate action of kneading, and add "-er."
Carpenter, Cabinet-Maker. — Make motion of planing a
board; add "-er."
Printer. — Make motion of printer in putting type into a
stick; add "-er." XI, 221.
Shoemaker. — Push the ends of the forefingers of "G" hands
toward each other as if they were awls forced through a piece
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 65
of leather; bend the ends of the fingers and draw them away
from each other as if they were drawing back the thread. XI,
(2) Make sign for ' ' shoe, ' ' thus : Push right " & " hand into
the partly closed left hand, and sign for "maker."
Tailor. — Make motion of sewing and add "-er. "
Dressmaker. — Sign first for "female;" then rub the hands
lightly downward against the body several times, indicating
its covering, for "dress;" then add sign for "maker."
Merchant. — "Seller." Indicate the kind of merchant by
sign for what he sells and add "seller." Thus, grocery-man
is literally "sugar seller" or "seller of sugar, food, etc."
Build. — Build up the hands by placing the palm of one on
back of other, like laying bricks, repeating the motion with
each hand alternately several times, raising them during the
Artist. — Sign for ' ' draw ; ' ' using the hand as a rest and the
little finger as a brush, make motion of drawing, then add
(2) Using both little fingers as brushes, holding them op-
posite, make motion (in the air) of drawing, adding "-er. "
Farmer . — Sign for "farm," i. e., bring the left arm up
against the breast, "A" hand near left shoulder. Eub the arm
near the elbow with the right open hand in a circular motion.
Add "-er." XI, 223.
Blacksmith.— Pound the forefinger of the left "G" hand
with the right "S" (little finger end) ; add "-er."
Doctor. — Place the forefinger of "D" right hand on the
pulse of the left hand and add ' ' -er. ' '
Nurse.— Same, but use "N" instead of "D."
Surveyor. — Hold the hands as if they were adjusting a sur-
veyor's instrument in front of you; make motion of sighting
and measuring along; add "-er."
Secretary. — Eeach up the right hand as if to take an imag-
inary pen from behind the ear ; bring it down and make motion
of writing; add "-er." XI, 224.
Treasurer. — Sign "money keeper."
President. — Eeach the "C" hands up at either side of the
head and grasp imaginary horns, carrying both "S"' hands
out simultaneously; then sign "rule over" thus: bring left
hand down, thumb toward breast; open the right hand and
66 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
reach it out and pass it over the left arm in a semi-circle from
right to left, XI, '225.
Vice-President. — Make sign for "president" and then "sec-
ond"— holding right "V" hand partly upward and twisting
the hand half around.
Governor. — The end of the forefinger of "G" hand is placed
against the temple ; withdraw it, describe a small circle in the
air, and place end again on temple ; next pass right hand over
left, etc., as in "president." XI, 226.
Soldier. — Hold the "A" hands at one side one above the
other as in holding a gun, soldier-like, against the side.
Captain, or Officer in General. — Place the hand upon the
shoulder, thus indicating the shoulder straps or epaulets.
Army. — Sign for soldier and then for "class," i. e., bring
the "C" hands out and draw them toward each other to a
Robber. — Draw the "N" hands (fingers) across the upper
lip, centre to side (one on either side) and add "-er."
King. — Place the right "K" hand just below the left shoul-
der, then carry it down to the opposite side of the body near
the waist; add "rule over;" to this sign add "country" and
we have "kingdom." XI, 227.
Queen. — Same with right " Q " hand.
Emperor. — Same with right "E" hand.
Note : In all of the last three, as well as in the case of all
persons exercising power of authority, it is more correct to
add "rule" as below.
Rule, Exercise authority over. — Hold the hands forward as
if holding lines; pull first one and then the other; bring the
left open hand, palm down, toward the right and against
the breast and at the same time extend the right open hand,
palm down, straight out and around loward the left, describing
a semi-circle in front of the body from right to left, as in latter
part of the sign for "president."
Superintendent, Foreman (the person exercising control). — ■
Make sign for male, then follow with last part of sign as above,
bringing the left hand in and the right out and over. If the
person exercising authority is a female, the sign for "female"
is made instead of that for "male."
ADJECTIVES AND ABSTRACT NOUNS
Note : In the sign there is no distinguishing difference, as
a rule, between the adjective and the abstract noun. Whether
one or the other is meant is determined by the context or the
circumstances under which it is used. Comparison is indicated
by following the sign for the adjective by a sign indicating the
degree, without any pause, thus: For the comparative ("-er"),
draw the "A" hand out toward the right side in front, raising
it with a slight jerking motion to the height of the shoulder.
For the superlative ("-est") make the same motion but carry
the hand higher to a level just above the head. For example,
in making the sign for "better" the end of the open hand is
placed against the mouth and the sign for "good" is made,
but before quite finishing it the "A" hand is brought up the
side as indicated so that there is no stop made, the whole
movement appearing as one sign. To make "than," bring
the right hand from the sign of the adjective and degree quick-
ly downward, palm down, past the left open hand, held ver-
tically edgewise, pointing outward.
Good. — Place the end of the palm against the mouth ; then
bring it down against the open left hand so the back of the
right hand rests in the palm of the left. In common use the
latter part of the sign is omitted and the hand is simply thrown
forward from the mouth. XII, 228.
Bad. — Same position of the hand as in "good;" in bringing
the hand away draw it slightly toward the right, turn it
palm down and thrown the hand downward. XII, 229.
Old. — Place the "S" hand against the end of the chin and
with a shaking or trembling motion pull it downward, as if
pulling an imaginary beard. XII, 230.
Young. — With the open hands in front on a level with the
waist-line, palms toward self, make a brushing motion with
the ends of the hands against the body, upward, carrying
them on away from the body. Eepeat several times. XII,
68 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
hong. — Placing the forefinger of the right "G" hand length-
wise near the wrist of the extended left arm, draw it up the
full length of the arm to the shoulder. XII, 232.
Short. — Holding the "G" hands in front and elbows rest-
ing against the sides, bring the forefingers toward each other.
XII, 233*. Or,
(2) Place the finger of the right "H" hand edgewise upon
the fingers of the left "H" hand, near the latter 's knuckles;
move the right fingers toward the end of the left.
Enough. — Hold out the left "S" hand and across the top
pass the palm of the open right hand, making the motion
outward. XII, 234.
Plenty. — Repeat the sign for "enough" several times suc-
cessively and to make it more emphatic add "much."
Full. — Hold out the left "O" hand and pass the palm of
the open right hand over it, making the motion from right to
left. XII, 235.
Strong. — Hold out the "S" hands to the front from the side ;
moving them slightly to one side, describe a small arc or circle,
making a show of using considerable force. The motion is
something like slinging a sledge hammer.
Note: The sign for "strong" is somewhat similar to that
for "can;" in the latter no circular motion is given the hands
but they are brought straight down. XII, 236.
Weak. — Place the ends of the fingers of "V" hand in the
palm of the open left hand; push the right hand against the
palm so that the fingers bend and the hand falls against the
palm. XII, 237.
Clear, Plain.— Bring the "&" hands in front, pointing out, so
that the thumbs and forefingers touch at a common point;
move the hands outward and apart while the fingers are
separated, bringing the hands to position of "5." XII, 238.
Obscure (hard to understand or make out). — Place the "5"
hands palm to palm; rub or pass the right back and forth
across the left several times. By making this sign in a way to
express action will indicate "camouflage."
Soft. — Hold out both "5" hands with the fingers and thumb
bent slightly toward each other; bring both hands to position
of "&," as if pressing something soft in your hand.
Hard.— Strike the back of the left fist with the back of the
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 69
(2) Strike the back of the left fist with the fingers of the
"H" hand bent almost double, striking the middle joint of
the middle finger on the back of the fist.
Note: The latter sign is often used in the sense of a "hard
case," or a "hardened sinner," when made once and with con-
siderable force. By touching the heart with the middle finger of
the right open hand and then making sign for "hard" is
indicated one without feeling, "hard hearted."
Difficult (hard to perform). — Place the "S" hands one
above the other ; then circle one around the other, moving both
at the same time, the motion being outward and down (not
from side to side). Make a show of some effort in moving
the hands. XII, 239.
Easy. — Hold out the left bent hand, fingers pointing toward
the right and slightly up ; with the open right hand brush light-
ly against the back of the fingers, carrying the right hand up-
ward and beyond the ends of the fingers. XII, 240.
Poor. — Holding the left arm over against the body in front,
grasp the under part of the sleeve with the right hand and
pull it down once or twice. XII, 241.
Rich. — Place the "&" hand, back down, in the palm of the
open left hand, as in the sign for "money;" (XXII, 396) lift
and let fall again once or twice and then draw it up, opening
the hand and separating the fingers somewhat, indicating
"much money," as if letting money fall from right into left
Poor, Lean. — Place the thumb on one side of the face and
the forefinger on the other; draw them downward and draw
in the sides of the cheeks. Or, press ends of open hands against
cheeks, downward and outward indicating hollowness of
Fat. — Hold the "5" hands, with fingers slightly bent in, one
en either side of the face, and as you puff out the cheeks draw
the hands away toward the sides.
Bough (in sense of rude in manner). — Pass the ends of the
fingers of "5" hand, bent, lengthwise across the open palm of
the left hand, making the motion outward from the wrist
to the end of the hand.
Rough (as to its surface). — Holding hands at right angles,
pass the end of the right hand across the back of the left,
giving it a waving motion as if it were passing over a rough
70 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Smooth. — Hold the "&" hands out and rub the end of the
thumb against the ends of the fingers, drawing the hands a
little away from each other. This sign also indicates "of fine
quality. ' ' Or,
(2) First draw the right "G" forefinger across the length
of the back of the left hand (held at right angles) and then
follow with the sign as above. Or,
(3) Draw the right open palm, turned down, across the
left open palm turned up.
Sharp (a sharp edge). — Holding the open left hand out, pass
the end of the middle finger of the right "5" hand (slightly
bent further in than the other fingers) along the lower edge
as if feeling its keenness, then draw away the hand quickly,
giving it a twist so that the finger comes to point downward.
Sharp, Shrewd. — Using the right open hand as a whetstone,
make motion of whetting against the edge of the open left
hand. XII, 242.
Sharp, Bright, Intellectually brilliant. — With the middle
finger of the right "5" hand bent in, place the end against
the center of the forehead, then throw it off with a twist, so
that when the hand comes to rest the fingers point outward.
The motion is similar to that in first sign for "sharp edge,"
but the sign is made from the forehead instead of the edge of
the hand. XII, 243.
Dull (as to edge). — Holding the left open hand in front,
palm toward self, strike the bottom edge with the top edge
of the right "B" hand brought up from below.
Dull, Stupid. — Strike the forehead with the fingers of the
right "A" hand at the middle joints. Or,
(2) Strike the end of the left open hand, in front, palm
toward self, with the fingers of the right "A" hand. Or,
(3) Hold the left "B" hand in front, palm down; place
the right "C" hand so the thumb is directly under knuckle of
the forefinger of the left and the 'C" measures the imaginary
thickness of the skull ; move the hand along to the end of the
forefinger, keeping it still in the same position.
Sly. — Same as for ' ' shrewd. ' ' Or,
(2) Make sign for "fox," i. e., grasp end of nose with the
"F" hand and wave the other fingers of the hand; then fol-
low with sign for "same'' in sense of "like," i. e., bring the
"(!" hands together with the forefingers extended parallel
A MANUAL OF SIUNS 71
(3) A slang sign often used to make the sign for "ghost"
in a peculiar manner and very quickly, as follows : Make the
shape of "U" with the thumbs and forefingers, extending tli3
other fingers; place the right hand above the other, fingers
pointing toward self; with a quick motion draw the right hand
upward and the left hand down, and while doing so close the
ends of the forefingers and thumbs. This sign is used to in-
dicate that something is done "on the sly."
Tall. — Hold the open left hand pointing up ; against the
palm place the right "G" hand, end of finger pointing up;
push the right hand upward the length of the left hand and
Short (in stature). — Hold the right bent hand out at one
side indicating the height of the person described (real or
imaginary) ; lower and raise the hand two or three times.
Note: For "short" in length, see preceding pages; xor
"short" in time, see under "Measurements of Time."
Bright, Glistening (as to condition). — Hold the "5" hand
out till the ends of the fingers come nearly together; draw
the hands upward and outward toward the side, giving the
fingers a rapid motion like that made when playing a piano.
The idea is that the fingers represent scintillating beams of
(2) Using one hand ("5"), draw it upward from left to
right, describing a semi-circle, and give it a waving or twist-
ing motion all the while. XII, 244.
Brave, Courageous. — Place the "A" hands on either side of
the breast so that they are just below the shoulder ; in placin 5
them there first leave the hand somewhat open and as yc.i
reach up make a grasping motion against the body; move the
hands straight out from the shoulder nearly the length of th 3
arms; move the upper part of the body forward the least bit.
Cowardly, Afraid, Timid. — Hold up the "5" hands, with
palms out, as if to ward off some danger; bring the hands
back toward the body with a downward motion and draw tlu
body back as if shrinking I'nini imaginary danger.
Lazy. — Throw the right "L" hand against the left shoulder.
Idl e . — Place the thumbs of the "Ij" hands at the arm pit,
and wave the fingers.
72 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Wide. — Place the open hands near together, palms toward
each other, and then draw the hands apart.
Narrow. — Place the open hands as above, but farther apart,
and then draw toward each other.
Width. — Make sign first as in "wide" and then as in "nar-
row," indicating the idea of size.
Deep. — With the "6" finger pointing down push the hand
downward. The sign is sometimes made by pushing the fin-
ger down between the middle and third finger of the left hand
held out, back up.
Shallow. — Hold out the left open hand, palm up, and above
it hold the right open hand, palm down ; push the hands toward
each other, draw them back, and repeat the motion several
times. Or, sign "deep, little."
High. — Pointing upward the forefinger of "G" hand, raise
+he hand to some height. Or, using the bent hand, pointing
the fingers out, raise the hand, and as the length of the arm is
reached extend the hand.
Far. — Pointing the "G" finger outward, move the hand
slowly out the full length of the arm. Or,
(2) Place the "A" hands in juxtaposition so the middle
joints touch and the thumbs point toward each other, the
left hand resting close to the breast and the other a little in
front; draw the right hand away slowly outward the full
length of the arm.
Mixed. — Place the bent "5" hands one above the other so
the fingers point toward each other; with a circular stirring
motion move the right hand around from right to left and the
left from left to right; continue the motion until the hands
have described two or three circles.
Orderly, Ready. — Extend the open hands, pointing outward,
and parallel to each other, over toward the left side ; lift them
both together from the wrists, move toward the right a little,
and let them come down again; repeat the motion until the
hands have been moved over to the right side.
True, Indeed. — Place the tip edge of the forefinger of "G"
hand, pointing upward, against the lips and move straight
forward some distance, keeping it perpendicular. XII, 246.
False, a lie.— Move tho forefinger of the right "G" hand,
held lengthwise, across the mouth from right to left with fin-
ger pointing toward the left. XII, 247. Or.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 73
(2) Move the tip of the finger held perpendicularly across
the same way. This indicates a less heinous falsehood, a "fib,"
or softens the accusation, and is used in preference to "lie"
when speaking of imitations or false material.
Awful. — Hold the "0" hands one against either temple;
throw both hands simultaneously forward from the head, not
quite arm's length, opening the fingers the while, so they as-
sume position of "5" at the end of the sign. The sign may be
made with one hand only.
Fearful. — Place the "F" hands, one against either cheek,
near the jaw; move them slowly to the temples and finish as
ibove in "awful."
Dangerous. — Make sign for "fearful" and follow with "hap-
pen," i. e., bring hands to position of "G" and quickly drop
and twist them inward until they come to rest, backs up, par-
allel nnd pointing outward.
Careful (exercising watchfulness). — Place the "V" hands
one resting across the other, the left pointing outward and
the right pointing toward the left; slowly raise and lower
both hands, keeping them in same position.-
Careless, Heedless. — Hold the "V" hand in front of the
forehead, pointing up; move back and forth from right to
left and left to right several times.
Different. — Cross the ends of the "G" hands pointing out-
ward ; draw the fingers and hands apart toward the sides.
Various (different, in sense of many kinds). — Use the same
motion but while drawing the hands apart give the forefingers
a vibrating, up-and-down motion.
Curious. — Move the " C " hand with opening toward the left,
in front of the face, describing a circle from right to left.
Funny, Humorous. — Rub the ends of the fingers of the "N"
hand downward along the end of the nose, holding the palm
Busy. — Make the sign for work, i. e., strike the top of the
left wrist with the under side of the right wrist, holding the
hands in position of "S," and add sign of "action."
Action, Active. — Place the bent hands with fingers pointing
down, in front out from the sides; draw them apart toward
the sides and again bring them near; repeat the motion rather
74 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Perfect. — Hold the left "P" hand pointing up; strike tip of
the middle finger with the tip of the middle finger of right
"P" hand. It is like throwing the "P's" together.
Correct, Exact.— Holding the left "G" hand pointing out,
the "G" up, strike it on the top with the right "G" hand held
in a similar position.
Alone. — Move the 'G" hand, with the back outward, and
the finger pointing upward, straight out from the front and
while doing so give it a zigzag motion from side to side.
Lonesome, Lonely. — Draw the forefinger of the "G" hand,
held perpendicular, it.s length downward, across the mouth;
then follow with the sign for "alone" as above.
Fast, Quick, Rapid. — Make the motion as in shooting a
marble except that you hold the end of the thumb directly on
the end of the forefinger. XII, 248. Or,
(2) Extend the left open hand pointing edgewise outward;
with a quick motion bring the right hand up alongside and,
pushing it straight out, strike the hands palm to palm, pushing
the right hand on out beyond the end of the left and drawing
the left well back.
Slow. — Draw the right hand slowly down the back of tha
left, held out and turned slightly upward. XII, 249.
Noble. — Strike the heart with the right "N" hand, palm
against the body. It is usual to give something of a flourish
to the hand as it is brought up to the position against the
Low, Base. — Let the "A" hand drop in stages, holding it
out in front from the side. XII, 250.
High, Prominent. — Holding the "A" hand out in front from
the side, slowly lift it to a height above the head. XII, 251.
Polite, Courteous. — Strike the breast with the thumb of the
"5" hand, all the fingers pointing upward; repeat the motion
several times. XII, 252.
Fine. — With the "5" hand held somewhat farther out, bring
back and strike the breast once as above, but more forcibly;
or, as in "nice," pass palm of right hand over left palm oul-
wnrd. XII, 25:!.
Magnificent. — Place the "5" hands pointing outward witli
1 numbs against the body just above the waist-line and one
hand on either side ; draw the hands up almost to the level
of the shoulders and then let them fall away ; while the hands
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 75
are moving upward give the fingers a vibrating motion. The
sign may be made with one hand only.
Right. — Hold out the open left hand, palm up; diagonally
across the palm push the right open- hand with edge touching
the palm. The sign may be made straight across. XII, 254.
Wrong. — Push the hand across as above but in a zigzag way
instead of in a straight line. XII, 255.
Just, Fair. — From a position toward each side, bring the
extended "0" hands together so the thumbs and fingers touch.
"Good Enough," " Goody. "—Holding the closed "0"
hands perpendicular, strike the "O's" together several times
with somevindictiveness. XII, 256.
Unjust, Unfair. — Hold the hands in position as in above
when the hands are brought together ; raise the right hand
and bring it down forcibly so that the "0" of the right hand
strikes against the "0" of the left. XII, 257.
Fair (in the sense of good to a moderate degree). — First
make the sign for good, then bring the open hands out toward
the side from a position in front, as follows : let the hands
come up edgewise and gradually turn them with palms up and
give a slight shrug of the shoulder. Or, make sign for "med-
ium," as explained below.
Worth. — Holding the extended "0" hands out in front,
somewhat down, bring them up together in front as in "just,"
but note that they are brought from a lower position and
gradually approach each other and not from the sides straight
together as in "just." XII, 258.
Worthless. — Sign for "worth," then follow with turning the
hands apart, and dropping them. Or,
(2) Strike the closed "0" hands together several times,
bringing the thumbs and forefingers as closed together, then
draw the hands apart. Or, in the last part of the sign open
the hands quickly, draw the right hand above the left, and
strike the palm of the left with the back of the right and let
the hands then fall apart.
Valuable. — Sometimes expressed by the sign for "worth,"
but it is more correct to add sign for "money" and "much,"
made as follows : Money — Strike the palm of the open left hand
with the back of the right "&" hand several times. For Much
— From its position in the palm, draw the right hand away,
letting it become "5" hand with fingers pointing toward palm
76 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Nice, Clean, Pure. — Place the right open hand upon the open
left, crosswise and palm to palm, and letting the right hand
rest near the ball of the thumb; pass the right hand along the
length of the left. When made in connection with "ghost"
or sacred subjects this sign means "Holy." XIII, 259.
Dirty, Nasty. — Place the back of the "4" hand under the
chin and wig^e or wave the fingers. XIII, 260.
Pretty, Beautiful. — Place the right "5" hand before the
face, while the hand describes a small circle, close the fingers
and thumb till the hand has assumed the "&" position, when
finishing the circle. The fingers move in a larger circle than
the wrist, which is kept nearly stationary. XIII, 261.
Ugly, Homely. — Crook the forefingers of the " G " hands and
bring them up in front of the face so that the fingers are
directly at the end of the nose and the fingers barely crossed
(but not locked) ; draw the hands apart toward the sides. XIII,
(2) Place the "A" hands, or the closed "0" hands, one
at either cheek, but not touching them, as in pinching or grasp-
ing something between the forefinger and thumb; push one
hand up and the other down, repeating the motion several
times, the hands going up and down alternately as if distorting
Medium, Midway. — Hold the left open hand out in front
with the palm toward self; place the right "B" hand pointing
out so the lower edge of the right is directly across the top
edge of the left, between the thumb and fingers.
Expensive, Dear. — Lay the back of the right "&" hand in
palm of left, for "money;" draw it away to the right and
then drop it with a kind of jerk.
Cheap. — Begin sign same as above ; lift the right hand away
and while doing so turn it so its palm faces down toward that
of the left, and then push the right hand toward the left as in
"small," thus indicating a small amount of money.
Wet. — Sign for "water," i. e., place forefinger of "W"
hand against the lips; then bring both hands in front, and with
both in position of slightly bent "5" hands close the fingers
to a point with the thumb, as in the "&" hand, and repeat the
opening and closing of the hand alternately several times, as
if handling something wet.
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A MANUAL OF SIGNS 77
Dry. — Draw the crooked forefinger of the right "G" hand
from left to right across the mouth. XIII, 263.
Color. — Placing the end of the right "B" hand in the center
of the left palm, give it a twisting motion as near as possible
like an artist mixing colors on his palette.
Red. — Draw the end of the forefinger of the right "G" hand
downward across the lower lip, two or three times.
Pink. — Draw the "P" hand downward across the mouth or
just the lower lip.
Blue. — Holding the "B" hand up in front give it a trem-
bling or shaking motion while drawing it toward the right side.
Green. — Similar motion with the right " G " hand.
Yellow. — Similar motion with the right "Y" hand.
Purple. — Similar motion with the right " P " hand.
Brown. — Holding the right "B" hand in front, move it to
the right side while working the fingers. Or,
(2) Give the shaking motion with the "R" hand, at same
time keeping fingers open.
White. — Place the palm of the open right hand against the
breast; draw it away (to the front), bringing the fingers into
the position of "&." # XIII, 264.
Black. — Draw the forefinger of the right "G" hand across
the right eyebrow from left to right.
Gray.— With the "5" hands held in front, palms to self,
throw them in and out in opposite directions so the fingers
of one hand strike the fingers of the other as the hands pass,
as it were, through each other. Or make "black" and
"white," then "mix."
Several, Few.— Gradually extend the fingers of the right
"A" hand, one at a time, beginning with the forefinger.
Wild. — Push the "5" hands up (one on either side of the
head), above the head at the sides, giving them a violent shak-
ing motion, twisting them at the elbows.
Tame (same as Pet.)— Rub the back of the left "B" hand
with the palm of the right several times, similar to the strok-
ing of a cat.
Note: The verbs are signed the same way, and the noun
"pet" same as above.
Wilful.— Strike the breast upward with the thumb of the
right "A" hand several times; or rub upward with the same
hand against the breast, giving the body a slight forward
78 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
movement as if pressing against the restraint of the right hand.
Important. — Place the right "1" hand upon the back of the
left "A" hand and elevate the latter, carrying the right hand
with it. X11I, 265. Or,
(2) Hold the left "A" hand out at the front from the side,
thumb extended, and pointing toward the left almost over
the shoulder; place the right "A" hand in same position,
somewhat lower and diagonally under the left about the center
of the waist ; elevate both at the same time toward the left.
Strange. — Sign "know" and "new" together.
Heavy. — Holding the open hands in front, palms up, lift
them with an apparent effort as if they held a load.
Light. — Same motion, but quick and easy as if the load were
Pleasant. — Holding the open hands just above the shoul-
ders, palms toward back, wave them backward over the shoul-
Note: This sign is used also to indicate "taking a walk"
though it should be followed by the sign for "walk."
Drunk. — Toss the end of the thumb of the "Y" hand against
the mouth as if carrying a bottle to the mouth to drink; then
move the right arm, pointing upward from the elbow, forward
in a staggering way.
Excessive, Exceed, Above the Ordinary. — Placing the left
bent hand in front, palm down, rest the right bent hand upon
the backs of the fingers, and then carry it up more or less
according as the excess is great or small. XIII, 266.
Empty, Gone, Out of, denoting Absence. — Place the right
"5" hand in the left "C" hand, the "C" over the back of the
right which is pointed up; drop the right hand down out of
the left and let the latter close over it to "0."
Stylish, Fashionable. — Place the "&" hands side by side,
pointing outward and touching; carry first the right forward
toward side, assuming "5" position, and then draw it back;
do the same with the left hand and repeat the motion several
Responsible. — Place both hands, one above the other, on the
right shoulder, indicating that something rests thereon. XIII,
Difficulty, Obstacle.— Crook the two "H" hands and bring
the bent joints together as in a collision, rather forcibly.
MEASUREMENT OF TIME, SPACE AND QUANT T L
Time. — Crook the forefinger of right "G" hand and with
the tip end tap the back of the left "S" hand. XIV, 268. Or,
(2) Upon the palm of the left open hand held edgewise
pointing outward, describe a circle with the right "T" hand.
Period of time. — Hold out the open left hand palm up and
pointing outward; pass the right "G" hand along the length
of the left palm. XIV ; 269.
Time (a short period of). — Place the right "H" hand,
pointing outward, across the left "B" hand held in front
pointing toward the right; with a scraping motion move it
back and forth along the top of the forefinger of the left hand.
Day. — Hold the right "G" hand out, pointing away from
the body toward the right side, the arm held straight from
the elbow; place the open left hand against the arm near the
elbow and holding it there turn the right arm with the elbow
as a pivot toward the left and describe a semi-circle with the
right hand. When the right hand comes to rest it should be
near the left arm pointing to the elbow. Sometimes the sign
is made the other way, by placing the right hand near the
left elbow, as in the last position, first and moving it from
left to right. XIV, 270.
Note : Any part of the day may be indicated by stopping
the hand in the sign when it points at the position of the sun
at the designated time, as the hand is supposed to represent
the course of the sun.
Night. — Place the hands and arms in position as if about
to sign for "day" but move the hand down and describe a
semi-circle below the arm from right to left, thus representing
the course of the sun during the period of time from set of sun
to its rising.
Morning. — Extend the right arm as in day, but Avith the
open hand palm up; place the edge of the left open hand upon
the forearm near the elbow. Or,
(2) Instead of placing the left hand so far back place it on
the wrist. XIV, 271.
80 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Noon.— With the left hand against the right arm as in "day"
hold the right "B" hand pointing directly overhead or pointed
slightly out, indicating the position of the sun at noon.
Evening, Night. — Eest the wrist with the bent right hand
upon the edge of the left "B" hand and turn the hand down-
ward. XIV, 272.
Forenoon. — Indicate by passing the arm in the sign for
"day" across that part of the arc between morning and noon.
Afternoon. — Indicate by passing the arm in the sign for
"day" across that part of the arc between noon and evening.
Note : To indicate very early in the morning let the right
hand point more down than straight out, according to the
earliness of the hour. And in late at night likewise let the
right hand point down more than usual.
Sunrise. — Hold out the left open hand, palm down, to rep-
resent the horizon; pass the right "O" hand from under the
left and bring it up above the left close to the outer edge and
thus represent the sun peeping up.
Sunset. — Hold left hand as above but place the right "0"
hand just above the edge of the left and drop it below.
Now, Present. — Place the open hands pointing outward,
palms up, in front, about the waist line ; drop them a little
To-day. — First sign "day" and then follow with "now."
To-morrow. — Place the right "A" hand against the right
cheek with the thumb pointing backward; give the hand a
twist outward so that the thumb, describing a semi-circle,
points to the front while the hand is brought out beyond the
face. XIV, 273.
Yesterday. — Place the "Y" hand with the end of the thumb
at the corner of the mouth; throw the hand back and bring
the thumb against the cheek again near the ear, or carry
it a little farther back and throw it over the shoulder. XIV,
In a few days.— Place the "A" hand against the cheek as
in "to-morrow;" give the hand a similar motion as in "to-
morrow" but more slowly; gradually bring the fingers out
one by one as in "few" (see preceding pages). Or,
(2) Sign for "few," "days," and "after." "After" is
signed as follows : XIV, 275.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 81
After. — Place the left "B" or open hand in front, palm
toward self and the right open hand in same position with
palm of fingers against the back of the left-hand fingers ; hold
the left hand still and push the right hand out and away from
it. XIV, 276. Or,
(2) Hold the left "B" hand palm down but with outer edge
turned slightly down half way; across the back of it pass the
right "B" hand so the edge strikes first the top edge of the
left hand and then points suddenly down.
Before. — Same position as in "after," but with the hands
reversed so that the right hand is on the inside, and draw the
right hand toward self. Or,
(2) Hold the left open hand pointing upward and back
of hand toward self ; right hand in position as above and draw
toward self. XIV, 277.
Daily, Every day. — Place the "A" hand against the cheek
as in "to-morrow;" push it straight forward a little beyond
the cheek; repeat the motion several times. Or,
(2) Make sign for "every" (see preceding pages) and
"day." XIV, 278.
A few days ago. — Place "A" hand with the end of the thumb
against corner of the mouth; holding the thumb still there,
draw the hand back and gradually open out the fingers one
by one until the hand assumes the position of "5." Or,
(2) Sign "few," "days," and "ago." "Ago" is signed as
Ago. — Throw the right hand back over the right shoulder
with the palm backward, same as past.
Week. — Clap the hands together crosswise, raise the right
forefinger to represent ' ' one. ' '
Next week, or In a week.— Same sign for week, but when
the hand is raised to make "one" it is thrown forward to
indicate it is in the future. Any number of weeks in the
future may be indicated by making any number on the fingers
and throwing the hand forward.
Last week, A week ago. — Make sign for "week" and then
throw hand back over shoulder, palm back.
Month. — Hold out the left "G" hand, forefinger pointing
upward; beginning at the upper end of the left forefinger,
draw the end of the forefinger of the right "G" hand down
its entire length. "Next month" is indicated by following
82 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
the sign by the sign for "future" (see preceding pages),
and last month is indicated by following the sign by that for
"ago" (see above). XIV, 279.
Weekly is indicated by repeating the sign for "week" two
or three times, each time throwing the forefinger forward from
Monthly is indicated by repeating the sign for "month"
two or three times.
Year. — Place the "S" hands one above the other; with the
right hand now encircle the left, passing the hand outward,
and bring to rest in original position.
Yearly. — Strike the top of the left "S" hand with the bot-
tom of the right "S" hand thrown outward against it, and
as it strikes extend the forefinger of the right hand and move
the hand outward beyond the left ; repeat two or three times.
Hour. — Upon the palm of the left open hand held straight
out, representing the dial of a clock, place the right "G" hand
with the forefinger pointing upward, representing the hand of
the clock; with the right forefinger now circle the face of the
palm as a hand would circle the face of a clock. XIV, 281.
Note : Using the forefinger of the " G " hand almost any
part of the hour may be indicated. Thus, fifteen minutes after
any hour is indicated by pointing the forefinger at the posi-
tion of the hand at 3 on the palm ; half after, by pointing the
finger at 6, and so on.
Minute, A moment, etc. — Place the forefinger of right "G"
hand as in "hour" and move it the least bit to the right, indi-
cating the space of the clock passed by the minute-hand in
one minute. This sign may often be interpreted as "in a
moment." For "a moment ago" move the forefinger backward
the same space.
Second.— Place the forefinger of "G" hand on the left palm
as above where the second hand is on the dial of a watch and
move it forward the space of a second.
Always, Forever.— With arm and elbow at side, hold out the
right "G" hand pointing outward; move the hand along out,
describing a circle with the end of the forefinger. XIV, 282.
Never.— Hold out the right "B" hand to the front straight
from the side, and with the hand describe a complete circle
from left to right, not moving the elbow out of its position;
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 83
when the hand returns to its starting point draw it slightly
to the right ; then throw it out at the right side. Some use the
" G " instead of the " B ' - hand. XIV, 283.
Once. — Dip the end of the forefinger of the right " G " hand
against the palm of the left open hand, bringing it away
Twice, Thrice, etc. — are indicated by making the sign twice
or thrice and raising the . fingers to indicate the number of
Sometimes. — Repeat the sign for "once" several times. The
sign made slowly or rapidly indicates whether it is frequent or
Again. — Holding out the bent right hand with palm partly
up give it a slight twist, turning the palm toward the left,
and strike the end against the open palm of the left hand.
Often. — Repeat the sign for "again" several times.
First. — Hold the thumb of "A" hand up perpendicular and
strike it with the forefinger of the right "G" hand. XIV, 285.
Last. — Extend the little finger of the left "A" hand and
with a downward motion strike it with the forefinger of the
right "G" hand. XIV ; 286.
Near. — Hold the left bent hand, palm toward self, slightly
toward either side, toward the right side and draw the right
open hand toward it so its palm approaches the back of the left
hand. XIV, 287.
Next (nearest). — Holding the left bent hand out in front,
palm toward self, and the right open hand between it and the
body, throw the right hand over the left and bring its palm
quickly against the back of the left. XIV, 288.
Next (after the first).— Hold out the left "L" hand with
the forefinger of the right "G" hand pointed just over and
across it; giving the wrist a twist bring the right forefinger
around the end of the left forefinger and up against its un-
derside. XIV, 289.
Then. — Strike the end of the forefinger of the left " L " hand
with the end of the forefinger of the right "G" hand. XIV,
(2) Holding the left "L" hand pointing toward the right
strike the thumb with the forefinger of the right "G" hand;
quickly close the left forefinger and drop the right hand down
84 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
just outside of the left so the palm side of the right fingers
barely touches the knuckles or middle joints of the left hand;
then extend left forefinger again and strike it with the fore-
finger of the right "G" hand.
When. — Hold the forefinger of the left "G" hand pointing
upward, palm side toward self; point the forefinger of the
right "G" hand at its end; describe a circle with the right
forefinger and then touch the end of the left forefinger with
the end of the right forefinger. XIV, 291.
During, While. — Hold the "G" hand straight out in front
from the sides but back almost to the sides ; push both hands
straight out, one on either side. XIV ; 292.
Much. — Hold the "5" hands so their palms are toward each
other, and draw them apart. It is usual to draw the left hand
a little downward toward the left while the right hand is
drawn upward toward the right. The extent to which they are
drawn apart indicates the quantity. XV, 293.
Little. — In the closed "0" hand rub the end of the thumb
against the end of the forefinger. XV, 294.
Small. — Hold the open hands out palm toward palm and
press them toward each other, repeating several times. XV, 295.
Large. — Hold the "L" hands palm to palm and draw them
apart. XV, 296.
Inch. — Extend, then bend the thumb of the left "A" hand
and enclose the space between its end and middle joint be-
tween the forefinger and thumb of the right hand.
Foot. — Extend the thumbs of the "A" hands and then hold
them together horizontally, thumb end to thumb end, and hold
up one finger for "1."
Measure. — Make sign for "foot" and move it along sepa-
rating and touching the thumb ends. Hold the thumbs in the
direction the measuring is supposed to be done.
Yard. — Draw a yard along the arm, as one would in meas-
Mile. — Hold out the right bent hand in front from the side
and drop it; then lift it a little, move it forward and bring
it down again.
Monday.— Describe a small circle with the "M" hand.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are all made
with the same motion of the hand as above (i. e., describing a
small circle) using the "T," "W," "F," and "S" hands
A MANUAL Ob' 8I0NS 85
Thursday.— The "T" hand is quickly changed to "H" and
the same motion is made. Some make the "H" only.
Sunday. — Kaise the open hands, one on either side, to the
level with the shoulders, palms outward.
Spring. — Draw the crooked forefinger of the right "G"
hand across the forehead, then sign for ' ' grow, ' ' i. e., push the
right "&" hand up through the left "O" hand.
Summer. — Draw the crooked forefinger of the "G" hand
across the forehead. XV, 297.
Winter. — Hold the "S" hands out to the front from the
sides and shake the whole of the forearms and hands together
as in "cold."
Fall.— Hold the left "S" hand up near the left shoulder,
doubling the arm; downward against the lower end of the
forearm near the elbow pass the right open hand, palm down-
ward, so the forefinger of the right hand brushes against
the arm. XV, 298.
Breakfast. — Sign "eat" (raise the right "&" hand to the
mouth) and "morning" (see preceding pages).
Dinner. — Sign "eat" as above, then "noon" (see preceding
Supper. — Sign "eat" as above, then "evening" (see preced-
Since. — Place the forefingers of the "G" hands above the
right shoulder, end to end, but not touching; giving each a
turn so the ends describe circles opposite each other, bring
them both forward to the front. XV, 299.
Not yet. — Same as "now" or "late," depending on use.
Late. — Hold the right open hand pointing down from the
elbow extending out at the side, and swing it back and forward
from the wrist. XV, 300.
Holiday.— Sign "idle" and "day."
Beyond. — Place the open hands in front, palms toward self
and together, so the palms of the fingers of the right are
against the backs of the left fingers; lifting the right hand a
little, carry it out some distance toward the front and drop it
to original level.
Place. — With the ends of the little fingers of the "I" hands
meeting (thumbs at top) end to end, draw each away at the
side and describe a half circle, bringing them to meet again
nearer the body.
86 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Where. — Extend the open hands, palm up, from the side out
to the front and give them a side to side shake with a look of
inquiry on the face. XV, 301.
Here. — Bring open hands, palms up, near the body, end to
end but not touching, and let each describe a small circle in
opposite directions outward, coming toward each other again
nearer the body.
There. — Point to a distance.
Center. — Describing a circle with the right open hand above
the palm of the left open hand, drop it into the center of the
Yet, Still. — Place the right "Y" hand at the side and carry
it out straight forward from the side. This also conveys the
idea of continuity. XV, 302.
ARTICLES OF FOOD, FRUIT, ETC.
Food. — Make sign for "eat" and add "different," or
Bread. — Hold in front the left bent hand, thumb pointing
outward; across the back of the fingers, draw back and forth
the edge of the little finger of the right "B" hand. XVI, 303.
Butter. — Holding the open left hand with the end pointing
upward, brush the end of the " II " hand downward against the
palm of the left. XVI, 304.
Meat. — Grasp the fleshy part of the left hand between the
thumb and forefinger, by the thumb and forefinger of the
right hand. XVI, 305.
Gravy. — Grasp the fleshy part of the palm near the little
finger of the left hand with the forefinger and thumb of the
right hand and draw them away from the hand, letting them
close when they drop away. XVI, 306. Or,
(2) Make a "spoon" with the right "C" hand and give
it a slight twist as if dipping and emptying the spoon.
Potatoes. — Making a "fork" of the right fore and middle
finger of the right hand, stick it against the left "S" hand.
Some hold the left hand in position of "&." XVI, 307.
Salt. — Place the end of the right "H" hand against the lips;
bring it away and down with a twist turning the palm side
down and strike the end against the back end of the left "H"
hand. XVI, 308.
Pepper. — Draw the forefinger of the right "G" hand from
left to right across the right eyebrow; bring the hand out to
the right and let it assume the position of the open " O " hand,
then throw it toward the imaginary plate as you would a salt
Milk. — With the " S " hands make motion of milking.
Cream. — Making a "spoon" of the right "C" hand, make
motion of "skimming" across the back or palm of the left open
Cheese. — Place the fleshy parts of the hands, palm to palm,
the right hand pointing to the left and the left to the right,
88 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
so the fingers extend beyond the palms; with a twisting mo-
tion rub the palms against each other. XVI, 309.
Coffee. — Placing the " S " hands one on top of another, make
a grinding motion as if turning a coffee mill. XVI, 310.
Tea. — Trace the rim of the left "O" hand with the ends
of the thumb and forefinger where they join in the extended
"O" hand. XVI, 311.
Corn. — Make motion of shelling the left forefinger with the
right hand. "Boasting ears" may be indicated by making the
motion of eating corn off the right forefinger as a "cob."
Tomatoes. — Make sign for "red" (i . e., draw the forefinger
of the .right "G" hand downward against the lower lip);
place the end of the right thumb in center of the left palm
and with this as a pivot make a circle on the palm with end
end of the forefinger. Or,
Draw the end of the right thumb around the outside of the
left "S" hand as in slicing.
Beans. — Pass the right closed " " hand along the length of
the forefinger of the left "G" hand, with a pecking motion.
Note: This sign is used indiscriminately for rice, oatmeal,
and all kinds of grain.
Peas. — Make sign as above ; then, grasping the left fore-
finger near the knuckle with the thumb and forefinger of the
right hand, pass the thumb down its length as in motion of
hulling the peas.
Onion. — Eub the right fist at the corner of the right eye.
Radish. — Make sign for "red" (see "tomatoes above) and
then draw the left forefinger between the thumb and fore-
finger of the right hand to indicate its shape.
Flour. — Make sign for "grain" (see above), then rub palms
of the hands together. XVI, 314.
Fish. — Extend the right open hand, pointing out, thumb
edge up ; place the end of the left open hand against the wrist
of the right, and work the right hand like the tail of a fish.
Cake. — Place the right "5" hand against the palm of the
open left, so the ends of the fingers form almost a circle ; lift
the hand away a little, at the same time drawing the ends of
the fingers closer together but not touching. Precede or fol-
low this with the sign for sweet, i. e., draw the end of the
rierht "H" hand downward across the mouth.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 89
Biscuit. — Same as for cake (above) except make the sign
for "warm" or "hot" instead of for "sweet," as follows:
Hold the right hand over mouth and draw away quickly as if
the hand were warm or hot.
Pie. — Place the bent right hand down against the left palm
so the fingers point toward the left ; lift the right hand, turn
it so the fingers point straight out and let the hand drop on
the palm again and the two lines thus made will indicate the
size and shape of a slice of pie. XVI, 315.
Doughnut. — Bite "R" between the teeth.
Toast.— With the right "V" hand used as a fork "stab" first
against the back of the left open hand, then against the palm
Pickle. — Make sign for "sour" (carry the forefinger of the
right "G" hand to the mouth and make a slight puckering
thereof) ; then down the length of the forefinger of the left
"G" hand draw the end of the right forefinger as if to split it.
Cracker. — Throw the right "S" hand against the left elbow,
holding the left "S" hand up near the right shoulder. XVI,
Oysters. — Hold the hands palm to palm ; draw the right hand
away and up; then with a motion like cutting with a hatchet
throw the right hand downward against and beyond the left
so that the palms rub as the hands pass. XVI, 317.
Soup. — Making a bowl with the left hand and a spoon with
the right, make a motion of dipping the soup from the left
hand to the mouth with the right.
Sugar. — Draw the end of the open right hand downward
across the mouth.
Nut. — Bite the end of the right thumb of "A" hand, nail
down, and strike the top of the left "S" hand with the
Peanut. — Sign for "nut;" then with the thumb and fore-
finger of the right hand grasp the end of the forefinger of
the left "G" hand and give a twisting motion as in breaking
the end of a peanut.
Apple. — Place the right "S" hand at the corner of the
mouth, so that the middle joint of the forefinger touches it,
and give the hand a twisting motion several times. XVI, 318.
Peach. — Bring the hands, one from either side, to the mouth,
making "&" with both of them; or,
90 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
(2) With the "&" hands together in front make motion of
tearing a peach apart.
Pear. — Grasp the left "&" hand in the fingers of the right
and lightly draw the right hand off the left so it assumes the
position of "&" when clear of the left; then make a "stem"'
on the left hand by placing the forefinger of the right "G"
hand against the end of the left " & " hand, which is not moved
during the sign.
Grape. — Against the back of the left "&" hand strike the
ends of the fingers of the right bent "G" hand; repeat the
motion several times, each time a little farther down on the
left hand till the fingers of the right have passed the knuckles
of the left. XVI, 319.
Fruit. — Sign as in "grow" (push the right "&" hand up-
ward through the left "0" hand); when through, quickly
make left "&" hand and grasp it over the back with the
fingers of the right and draw them down and off the entire
length of the left hand.
Strawberry. — Make sign for "red" (draw forefinger across
lip) ; grasp the thumb of the left "A" hand from the back with
the right hand so that the fingers of the right clasp those of
the left and the end of the right thumb nail rests against the
back of the knuckle of the left thumb, thus indicating the
size of the berry.
Currant. — Sign ' ' red ' ' same as above ; then grasp the little
finger of the left "I" hand as above, only rest thumb against
palm side of little finger.
Banana. — Make motion of peeling the forefinger of the left
"G" hand as if it were a banana, then sign "yellow," (give
the right "Y" hand a twisting shake several times).
Orange.— Holding the left " S " hand in front, place the end
of the thumb of the right "Y" hand against the back of the
left hand, and draw it across, downward, the width of the
hand. Some add "yellow" as above. Others add "sweet"
(see preceding pages). XVI, 320.
Lemon. — Same as above, then add "sour" (see preceding'
(2) Hold the "S" hand against the mouth as if it held a
lemon and contract it as if squeezing a lemon.
Watermelon.— "Thump" the back of the left "S" hand.
Some add "green" (give a twisting shake to the right "G"
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 91
Muskmelon. — "Thump" as above; then along the back of
the left open hand draw the thumb and forefinger, an inch
apart, to indicate the ridges along the side of the muskmelon.
Pumpkin. — "Thump" as above and add "yellow" (see
Cabbage. — Strike the sides of the head with the wrists of the
"A" hands, one on either side. XVI, 321.
Turnip. — Kub the nail side of the thumb of the right "A"
hand in the center of the palm of the open left hand.
Molasses. — Draw the forefinger of the right "G" hand
across the width of the mouth from left to right (knuckle to
Gum. — Crook the forefinger of the right "G" hand and
place the crook of the joint at the corner of the mouth and
pull it down and repeat the motion several times, the mouth
making a chewing motion also.
Beer, Drinker, Drunkard. (Including intoxicating drink.) —
Throw the right "Y" hand against the mouth, end of thumb
striking the mouth. The same sign repeated indicates one is
addieted to drink. By adding "-er, " the sign becomes "drunk-
ard." XVI, 322.
Wine. — Rub the right "W" hand against the cheek.
Vinegar. — Strike the mouth with the forefinger side of the
right "V" hand.
Egg. — Cross the fingers of the "H" hands in front of you;
drop them and let the hands fall apart. It is better to strike
the top fingers against the bottom as if cracking the shell.
Animal. — Lock the ends of the fingers, or place them end
to end (not necessarily touching) and place hands, palm to
breast ; move the hands outward and back following motion of
chest in breathing. XVII, 323.
Horse. — Place the "H" hands against the head, one on either
side, pointing upward; work them backward and forward a
few times, indicating the ears. XVII, 324.
Mule, Donkey. — Same, but use the whole hand instead of
the "H" hand, to indicate size of ears.
Cow. — Make "horns" on the sides of the head with the "Y"
hands. XVII, 325.
Dog. — Pat the knee and snap the fingers as in calling a dog.
Cat. — Place the closed "0" hands on the lip, one on either
side of the mouth, and with thumbs and forefingers pull im-
aginary "whiskers." XVII, 326.
Sheep. — Using the right "V" hand as shears, lay the. fin-
gers, backs down, on the upper side of the left forearm and
work the "V" as shears, moving the fingers up the arm toward
the elbow. XVII, 327.
Hog, Pig. — Place the back of the open right hand under the
chin with fingers pointing halfway between the left and the
front and shake the end of the hand up and down. XVII, 328.
Goat. — Place the back of the right "V" hand against the
chin so the knuckles touch the end of the chin; quickly raise
the right hand now and strike the backs of the fingers in the
bent "V" against the forehead, then straighten out the fin-
gers, bringing them upward and outward and throwing the
hand away from the forehead.
Bird.— With the knuckle of the forefinger of the "Gr" hand
against the mouth and the finger pointing outward, bring the
ends of the forefinger and thumb together to represent the bill,
then work the bent arms as wings. XVII, 329.
Chicken, specifically A Hen. — Make bill as above; then
with the fingers of the bent "V" hand make scratching motion
in the palm of the open left hand. Or,
.1 ilM2W.lL OF HIGNiS 93
(2) Make bill as above and then with the forefinger of
the right "G" hand slash across the right side of the neck.
Cock. — Make bill; then place the right "3" hand (thumb
and two fingers) with the thumb against the forehead to
represent the cock's comb. XVII, 330.
Turkey. — Grasp the bridge of the nose between the thumb
and forefinger of the right hand and pull away with a pinch-
ing motion; then hold the forefinger of the right "G" hand
pendant from the breast.
Duck. — Make bill with two fingers instead of one, indicating
wider bill. XVII, 331.
Goose. — Make bill as in "duck;" then stretch out the fore-
arm in a crooked motion to represent the neck of the goose.
Pigeon. — Make bill; then bring right "B" hand up, thumb
side against the chin, and lower it in a half circle to the breast,
indicating the protruding breast of the pigeon.
Quail. — Make bill; then "bore" the forefinger of the right
"G" hand in the side of the neck, or bring the closed "G"
hand up and draw it behind the ear.
Robin. — Make bill; then "red" (draw forefinger across
lower lip) and then indicate breast.
Elephant. — Extend the whole arm from the front of the
face, pushing the hand first up near the face and then outward
and down to represent the trunk.
Camel. — Place the "C" hand, palm up, in front of the neck,
then draw it out, tracing in the air the shape of the camel's
Lion. — Place the bent "5" hand above the forehead, palm
side down, and draw it above and over the head toward the
back, shaking the hand at the same time. XVII, 332.
Tiger. — Make sign for "cat" (see above) and then with the
forefinger and thumb held an inch apart indicate the stripes
by rubbing against the body.
Leopard. — Make sign for "cat" (see above) and then strike
the side with the ends of the fingers of the bent "5" hand to
indicate the leopard's spots.
Zebra. — Make sign for "horse" (see above) ; then with
thumb and forefinger as in "tiger" represent stripes against
the sides of the body.
Wolf. — Push the forefingers of the "G" hands (one on
either side of the mouth) upward from the chin, indicating
94 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
the wolf's fangs; then bring the bent "5" hand in front of
Ihe face, drawing it outward from the nose to indicate that
shape of the wolf's nose.
Fox. — Grasp the end of the nose with the "P" hand and
work the rest of the fingers.
Squirrel. — Bend the fingers of the "V" hands and place
them up before the mouth, so the fingers of one hand point
toward those of the other; throw the ends of the opposite fin-
gers together several times. XVII, 333.
Rabbit. — Cross the "H" hands so the right rests upon the
left; the right points toward the left and the left toward the
right; work the fingers forward and back, each in the same
direction. XVII, 334*.
Deer. — Make "horns" of the "5" hands, one on either side
of the head, and then extend the hands outward to indicate
the size of the horns. XVII, 335.
Bear. — Cross the arms so the right hand will be near the
left elbow and the left hand near the right elbow, as in hug-
ging; draw the arms apart so the fingers of the hands will
scratch along the arms as they come apart. XVII, 336. "
Monkey. — Strike the hands against the front of the body,
near the side, so the ends of the fingers scratch upward, turn-
ing them inward as the hands rise against the body; repeat
the scratching motion and at the same time put the end of
the tongue between the lower front teeth and the lip, pushing
it outward to indicate the shape of the monkey's chin. XVIT,
Snake. — Holding the right "V" hand down at the side,
fingers pointing forward, extend the hand along in a zigzag
way to indicate the motion of the snake crawling. Or, indi-
cate the same motion with the right "3" hand, with the thumb
pointing up. Or,
(2) With the right elbow resting in palm of left hand,
make a coil sign with the right "G" hand forward.
Frog. — Place the right "V" hand against the throat; then
Avith the "V" hands held one beyond the other and both
pointing toward the left, bend and unbend the two fingers
of each hand, representing the motion of a frog's legs in swim-
Butterfly. — Lock the thumbs with the hands crossed, backs
down, (the hands being on opposite sides) ; or, place together
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 95
the ends of the thumbs of open hands, palms down, and work
the hands as the wings of a butterfly. XVII, 338.
Worm. — Wriggle the forefinger of the right "G" hand on
left palm to represent motion of worm in crawling. XVII, 339.
Rat. — Bub the "R" hands upward across the side of the
nose, or use both "R" hands in the same way. XVII, 340.
Mouse. — Rub the end of the forefinger of the right "G"
hand in the same way as above in "rat," or use both fore-
Bee. — Place the end of the forefinger of the right "G" hand
against the right cheek; then remove and brush the open
hand, edge against the cheek, outward.
Fly. — Make motion with the right hand on. left arm as of
reaching out and catching a fly off the table or in the air.
Spider. — Cross the hands, fingers pointing outward, and
clasp the little fingers ; work the fingers like the legs of a spider,
extending the hands forward the while. XVII, 341.
Insect. — Place the thumbs of the open hands, end to end,
palm down and fingers pointing outward, and, bending the ends
of the fingers, work them like the legs of an insect.
Note : The diminutive of animals is indicated by preceding
or following the sign for the particular animal by that for
"baby" (folding the arms across and indicating action of
holding a baby).
Specifically "Bull," and by inference the male of animals,
is indicated by rubbing the "A" hand in a circle on the fore-
head, the fingers against the head. Or use the "bent" hand
with finger ends against the forehead, the same way.
Fish. — Extend the right "B" hand in front straight out
from the waist, or a little above it ; then place the end of the
left open hand at right angles against the wrist of the right,
and then wiggle the right hand from the wrist as if it were the
tail of a fish. XVII, 342.
The World. — Placing the right "W" hand, fingers pointing
outward, first upon the left "S" hand, encircle it with the
right, starting the hand outward. XVIII, 343.
The Earth, or The Globe. — Hold the left "S" hand as if it
were grasping an axis held between the thumb and middle
finger of the right hand; move both hands as if the left were
turning or swinging on this imaginary axis. This sign is also
used to mean "geography." XVIII, 344.
Land. — Bub the ends of the thumb over the ends of the
fingers, using both hands. Sometimes the sign for "farm"
or "country" is added (rub the open right hand on the under
side of the left forearm.) XVIII, 345.
Sky, The Heavens. — Hold the "B" hands up in front, their
ends pointing out and touching; draw them apart toward the
side and down, so they describe the) arc of the sky.
Sun. — Holding the forefinger of the right " G " hand pointing
up toward the sky, describe a circle in the air with it; then
bring hand to position of "&" turned and pointing down;
then bring the hand downward, while the fingers are opened
to "5," thus representing the beams of light from the sun; in
this motion raise the hand back with a vibrating motion.
Moon. — Hold the rght "C" hand over the side of the right
eye and looking up at the sky lift the hand, still in position of
"C," upward toward an imaginary moon, and end as in "sun,"
Star. — Hold the "G" hands up in front, pointing the fore-
fingers upward toward the stars; bring the right hand back
a little and then strike the left forefinger with the right,
carrying it along the length of the finger; do the same with
the other hand and repeat this motion several times.
Light. — Hold the "&" hands out in front and somewhat
elevated, pointing out and touching at the ends; push the
hands out and to the side, opening the hands to "5." XXII, 407.
Bright and Clear. — Hold the "5" hands together, end to
end in front; draw them apart, lifting them upward and out
toward the side, while the fingers are worked up and down
as in playingr a piano.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 97
Light (that which throws beams). — Place the right "&"
hand upon the thumb of the left "A" hand, then extend the
right hand outward, opening the fingers to "5," and then
spreading the hand out and around.
Dark. — Draw the forefinger of the right "G" hand across
the right eyebrow from left to right; then bringing the open
hands, palm to self, up in front, pass the right before the face
toward the left and the left similarly toward the right so thej<
pass each other in front of the face. The first part of the sign,
drawing finger over eyebrow, is usually omitted. XVIII, 346.
Clouds. — Draw the forefinger across the eyebrow as above;
then hold the " 5 " hands out in front elevated and encircle one
with the other while they are moved about in front of the face.
Water. — Strike the mouth several times with the right " W"
hand (the forefinger against the mouth). XVIII, 347.
Rain. — Sign for "water;" then bring the "5" hands elevated
toward the side, fingers pointing out and palms down ; drop the
hands, lifting and dropping them several times in succession,
the fingers thus indicating the falling drops of rain. XVIII
Snow. — Make sign for ' ' white, ' ' thus : place open hand
against the breast and draw it away, closing the fingers against
it, so that when it is free of the body it is in position of "&;"
then end with hands same as above in "rain," omitting
' ' water. ' '
Ice, Freeze. — Hold the "5" hands out, palms down; drop
the hands downward a few inches rather forcibly, at the same
time quickly bending the finger ends and stopping them rig-
idly bent as the hands are brought to a stop. XVIII, 349.
Lightning. — Hold the forefinger of the right "G" hand high,
pointing upward, and then bring it down quickly zigzag
through the air.
Thunder. — Place the right forefinger to the ear, bring the
"S" hands out to the front from the sides; jerk the right hand
toward self and throw the left out toward the side, and then
reverse the movement of the hands, repeating the motion sev-
Earthquake. — Sign "earth" (see above) and finish with
hands as in "thunder."
Mountain. — Strike the back of the left "S" hand with the
back of the right "S" hand; then extend the open hands,
98 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
palms down, toward the left, tilt them and lift them upward,
following the side of an imaginary mountain ; turn to cross
the top and then hring the hands down on the other side of the
"mountain," thus having traced its shape with the hands.
Note that the left hand proceeds first and the right follows it.
Peak. — Make "mountain," and finish with raising the "G"
hands up from the sides and closing at a point.
Hill. — The sign is similar but the hands are not lifted so
Valley. — Place the right open hand elevated on the right
side and the left similarly on the left, the palms outward;
draw both hands down to meet in front of the waist-line, the
hands thus tracing the sides of two opposite hills or moun-
River. — Make sign for "water" (see above); then bring
the left "4" hand out to the front from the side, palm down,
fingers pointing diagonally away from the body toward the
left; from making the sign "water" bring the right "4" hand
down to the front in similar position and pointing in the same
direction as the left, somewhat behind it; then move both
hands diagonally toward the left, and as the hands move for-
ward shake the finger .5 up and down unevenly to represent
the flowing of the water.
Spring. — Make sign for "water," then push the right "&"
hand up through the left "0" hand and as it comes up change
to "5" hand and work the fingers to represent flowing water.
Grass.— Push the right "&" hand up through the left "0"
hand; then carry it out in position of "G" and pass it over an
imaginary surface, giving it a shaking motion to indicate the
Flower.— Hold the "S" or the end of the "&" hand directly
under the nose as if holding a bunch of flowers there to smell.
Some make this sign first under one nostril and then the other.
Some place the end of the "&" hand under the nose and then
open out the fingers to nearly "5" hand. XVIII, 350.
Blossom. — Sign for "flower;" then bring the "&" hands
together, ends pointing upward, and open them out to "5"
hands, thus indicating the opening of the flower.
Wind. — Holding the hands up in front with palm toward
palm, wave them first to one side and then to the other, with
more or less energy according to the intensity of the wind.
A MANUAL OF SI0N8 99
Field or Garden. — Place the ends of the "5" hands together
so that the ends lock like the ends of a rail fence; draw the
hands apart toward the sides and bring each around toward
the body, indicating a fenced piece of ground, and then sign
for "grow" (push the "&" hand up through the left "0"
hand and then spread the fingers out to "5").
Tree. — Let the right elbow rest in the left palm, the fore-
arm extending straight up and the hand as in "5;" twist the
hand with a shaking motion rapidly several times. XVIII, 351.
Bush. — Hold both open hands, palm toward palm, pointing
upward, in front; rub one up against the other and reverse, a
few times, or "little tree."
Vine. — With the "G" hand moving upward in a snake-like
way represent the course of a climbing vine ; then spread both
open hands upward and outward.
Grapevine. — Make "Grape" sign; then "Vine."
Gold. — Pinch the lobe of the right ear with the thumb and
forefinger, then bring the "Y" hand out to the front and give
it a shaking motion several times.
Silver. — Make "white" (place palm of right hand against
breast and draw it outward, hand assuming the position of
("&"); then bring the hands together, making a hollow of
them; shake as if they contained something to jingle.
Tin. — Strike under the chin with the back of the right "S"
hand; then grasp the end of the open left hand with the fin-
gers of the right and give a motion as if shaking or bending
tin — the left hand representing the tin.
Metal. — Strike the back of the fingers of the left "4" hand
with the bottom of the right "S" hand, striking it across the
fingers from the forefinger to the little finger.
Iron. — Strike the forefinger of the left "G" hand with the
bottom of the right "S" hand. XVIII, 352.
Electricity. — The sign for this word is not uniform. One
sign used by most is to bend the forefingers and strike the
bent ends of the middle joints together.
Trolley car. — With the forefinger of the left hand repre-
senting the feed wire make a sort of grooved wheel with the
fore and middle fingers of the right hand bent and run, them
along under this "feed wire." Some just run the "E" of the
right "E" hand along the left forefinger.
THE DEITY AND RELIGION
God. — Elevating the right "6" hand, point it outward,
then draw it backward and downward toward self; the end
then points up toward heaven. Some use whole open hand.
Lord. — Place the right "L" hand up near the left shoulder
and carry it diagonally down to the other side of the body
near the waist; then finish with sign for "rule," i. e., move
the right open hand, extended at arm's length in front from
the side, over the left, bringing the left hand up against the
body. XIX, 354.
Heaven. — Both "B" hands touch at the ends in front and
somewhat elevated on a level with the head ; draw them apart
toward the sides; bring the left hand back, twisting it so as
to leave the palm outward and pass right open hand under left,
turning it upward, and raise it until it shows above the left
Christ. — With the "5" hands in front, pointing outward,
palm toward palm, bend the middle finger of the right hand
toward the left, and strike the center of the left palm with it ;
withdraw it and repeat the motion with the left hand against
the right. Note that the fingers thus striking the center of
the palm indicate the nails driven in our Saviour's hands.
Priest. — Place the ends of the forefingers of the "G" hands,
one at either side near the shoulder; draw them down held
against the body until they reach just above the waist-line,
then draw them toward the center till they meet. XIX, 358.
(2) Placing the "4" hand against the breast, palm to self
and fingers pointing up, draw down nearly to waist; place
hand again at breast, but fingers pointing toward the left,
then draw across breast to the right.
Devil.— Place the ends of the thumbs of the "3" hands at
side of the head, the forefingers and middle fingers pointing
outward; bend and unbend the fingers, indicating the sup-
posed horns of his Satanic majesty. XIX, 359.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 101
Hell.— Sign "devil," then with the right "G" hand pointing
down let the hand descend as far as it can.
Swear, Curse. — Bring the palm of the "5" hand up to the
mouth, closing it to "S;" draw it away and bring it down
with some force. XIX, 360.
Idol. — Draw the "C" or, better, the bent forefinger of the
right "G" hand down across the face for picture; with the
"I" hands outline in the air a supposed image, and put hands
in attitude of prayer.
Bible. — Sign for "Christ" (see preceding pages); then
"book," placing the hands palm to palm for the backs of a
book and opening them.
Moses. — Place the thumb and forefinger against the sides
of the head (one on either side near the temple) ; change to
the position of the closed "0" hand as you draw them away
from the head.
Abraham. — Holding the left arm against the breast, the hand
near the right shoulder, strike the outside of the forearm near
the elbow with the right "A" hand.
Saviour. — Cross the "A" hands at the wrists as if the hands
were bound, and then bring the hands apart to indicate "free-
dom" and add the sign for "-er" to indicate the person.
Catholic. — Make the sign of the cross upon the forehead
with the right "N" hand.
Quaker. — Clasp the hands together, then rotate the thumbs,
one around the other.
Baptize. — Make sign for "water," then make motion of
sprinkling water on the forehead; or (2) bring the "A" hands
toward the right and make motion of immersing imaginary
person. For Baptist make the second sign for "baptize" and
"-er" to indicate the person. XIX, 361.
Methodist. — Bend the fingers of the right "V" hand and
place them in the left palm like "kneel."
Presbyterian. — Place the ends of the fingers of the right
"V" hand in the palm of the left, or strike the palm with the
right "P" hand.
Episcopal. — Bending the left arm against the body so the
hand comes up near the right shoulder, place the forefinger
of the right "G" hand against the outside of the wrist, then
swing it down and around and strike it against the elbow,
thus indicating the sleeves of the surplice. XIX, 362.
102 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Note : Iii each case where the person is meant, add the
"-er" sign as given under Occupations of Mankind."
Christian.— Sign for "Christ;" then "friend," "follower,"
or "believer" (see preceding pages.)
Spirit, or Ghost. — Place the slightly bent left hand, palm
toward self, on a level with the breast, and the right hand,
same position, on a level with the waist-line ; lift the right hand
and lower the left (the right on the outside and left inside,
at the same time let both hands assume "&" position; the
right hand stops when it reaches the height of the face and
left reaches the waist-line. XIX, 356.
Holy Ghost. — Sign "Ghost" as above and follow with
"Holy" (see preceding pages). Or make "Holy" and
Church, Chapel. — Place the right "C" hand on the back of
the left "S" hand, thumb next the back. XIX, 357. Or,
(2) Place ends of the "B" hands together to indicate roof
of house, then make sign for Sunday, i. e., raise hands at front
of shoulders pointing upward, with the palms outward (liter-
ally, "Sunday house").
Prophet. — Place the ends of the fingers of the "V" hand
on the face astride the nose and under the eyes (for "see") ;
then holding the left "B" hand in front, palm toward self,
push the "V" through the left hand between the middle and
third fingers which are parted to let the hand pass; finally
end with open hands down against the body to indicate the
person. Some pass the fingers under the left hand instead
of between the fingers.
Worship. — Sign "kneel" (place the bent fingers of the
right "V" hand in the palm of the left hand, the fingers thus
representing the bent knees) ; then place hands in attitude of
prayer or supplication and then sign "serve" (with the open
hands in front, palms up, move them to one side and then to
COUNTRIES AND NATIONALITIES
Note. The sign given usually (unless otherwise specified)
indicates the country. To indicate the inhabitant or individual
follow with the sign for"-er" as in occupations indicating the
person, i. e., with the palms toward self draw them against the
Nation. — Place the end of the fingers of the right "N" hand
upon the back of the left "S" hand, withdraw them, describe
a circle above the hand and let the fingers again rest on the
left hand. XX, 363.
America, signifying The Union. — With palms toward self,
lock the ends of the fingers of the "5" hands so they are
crossed, one above the other (like rails on a fence), and draw-
ing the hands toward the left, swing them around the front in
a semi-circle to the right side. XX, 364. Or,
(2) With the right "A" hand, thumb up, describe a cir-
cle on the back of the left hand.
The United States. — Holding the " U " hand out give it a cir-
cular motion and then follow with "S" in a similar motion.
England. — Beach the right hand across the back of the left
open hand and grasp the fleshy part of the hand (so the right
palm rests on the back of the left hand) and draw it toward
self. XX, 365.
Scotland. — Bring the "5" hands up in front, palms toward
self, the palm of the right hand resting against the back of
the left in such a way that the fingers of both hands cross at
an angle representing an "X;" let the hands drop away to-
ward the sides. Note that the fingers Avhen thus held represent
the plaid. XX, 366.
(2) Place back of the extended right hand across the left
arm; draw it across and then turning the hand over repeat,
representing plaids on arm.
Ireland. — With the right "V" hand at rest just above the
back of the left "S" hand, describe a circle around it with
the "V" and then bring the end of the "V" down on the
baek of the left. XX, 367.
104 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
France. — Holding out the "F" hand well toward the left,
draw it across in front of self from left to right, giving the
hand a twist meanwhile so the hand is changed from a position
of thumb on top to palm down.
Germany. — Cross the hands in front, diagonally, so the wrist
of the right "5" hand rests upon the wrist of the left and
work the fingers of both hands. XX, 368.
Holland. — Place the thumb of the "Y" hand pointing out-
ward, against the mouth, and draw it downward a distance
and then out, representing the long stem and bowl of a pipe.
Denmark. — Describe a circle with the "D" hand in front of
Norway. — Describe a motion with the "N" hand in front of
Sweden. — Describe a circle with the "S" hand in front of
Spain. — Lock the forefingers of the "G" hands under the
chin. XX, 369.
Italy. — With the little finger of the "I" hand trace a cross
upon the center of the forehead.
Rome. — Place the ends of the fingers of the "N" hand
against the center of the forehead; lift it away and bring it
down, placing it upon the end of the nose. Note that the ends
of the fingers trace the outline of the prominent nose. XX, 370.
Greece. — Place the forefinger of the "G" hand upon the
nose, pointing upward, letting the knuckle rest between the
eyes, and then draw the finger down the length of nose. Note
that this indicates the straight nose of the Greek. XX, 371.
Turkey. — Place the closed " C " hand a little above the fore-
head, thus representing the crescent.
Switzerland. — Place the end of the right "B" hand against
the forehead; withdraw it, twist the hand around so the palm
is out and strike the side of the head with the back of the
Russia. — Place the "C" hands against the opposite sides of
Egypt. — Place the end of the open right hand on the end of
the nose ; withdraw it, describe circle above the nose, and bring
the end of the hand at rest on the nose as at first.
Africa. — Place the end of the forefinger of the right "G"
hand upon the end of the nose, withdraw and describe a circle
above it and bring to rest again as at first.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 105
Negro. — Place the fingers of the "N" hand upon the end of
the nose, and rock it from side to side with a twisting motion.
Europe. — Describe a circle before the face with the right
Asia, China.— Place the ends of the forefingers of the "G"
hands, one at the corner of either eye, and push upward a
little, giving the eyes an almond shape. Or simply place the
end of the forefinger on the temple and twist it once or
twice. XX, 373.
Canada. — Grasp the coat lapel (or an imaginary lapel) with
the right hand and give it a little shake.
North America.— Make "N" then "A," giving the hands a
shaking or circular motion.
South America.— Same with "S" and "A."
New England.— Pass the "E" hand across the length of the
palm of the open left hand from the finger end to the palm.
New York.— Pass the "Y" hand across the length of the
left palm from the heel to the finger ends. XX, 374.
Washington (both the man and the city).— Place the end
of the right "W" hand on the right shoulder; bring it out and
give it a circular motion up and down. "When the city is meant,
sign "Washington," then "city." XX, 375.
Chicago. — Give the "C" hand a shaking motion, or circle
through the air with it.
California. — This State is sometimes indicated by the sign
for "gold," i. e., pinch the lobe of the right ear and bring the
"Y" hand out and give it a twisting, shaking motion. Or,
leaving the ear, have the "Y" hand, after making a twisting
motion, strike the palm of the left hand.
Indian. — Place the end of the thumb and forefinger of the
closed "0" hand on the end of the nose and then carry it
around and place it similarly against the ear. XX, 376.
Jew. — Placing the fingers of the bent "5" hand on the chin,
draw them down and off, letting the hand assume the "&"
position as it leaves the chin. XX, 377.
Note : Cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, Omaha, etc., are
indicated locally by use of the initial letter, usually giving it
a twisting or shaking motion. Only the few larger cities have
such a recognized sign throughout the country. But locally
nearly all cities have their signs.
PREPOSITIONS AND CONJUNCTIONS
Among. — Hold the left bent "5" hand in front with the fin-
gers pointing upward; with the forefinger of the right "G"
hand pointing down move it in and out among the fingers of
Around. — Hold the left " & " hand pointing upward and cir-
cle it several times with the forefinger of the right "G"
hand pointing down.
At.— Strike the back of the left "B" hand, pointing upward,
with the right "B" hand. XXI, 381.
Before (in time). — See preceding pages.
Before (in place). — Hold the open hands pointing upward,
in front, one on right side, one on left, palm toward palm,
and 5 or 6 inches apart; turn both hands at the same time,
carrying the left to the front and the right toward self, still
keeping them palm to palm.
After (in time). — See preceding pages.
After (in place). — Same as "behind ;" see below.
Behind. — Place the "A" hands in front, one on right side
and the other on the left, thumbs pointing upward; bring the
right hand toward self around behind the left, the latter re-
maining stationary. To signify behind in accomplishment,
draw hand back indicating one is far "back. XXI, 382.
Below. — Hold the right open hand under the left, palms of
both down; move the right around in a circle.
Under. — (If stationary). "With the left open hand, palm
down, in front, and right "A" hand between it and self, let the
right hand pass down under the left. Or place the "A" hand
under the left and describe a circle, with it. XXI, 383.
Under. — (If in motion). Same position and movement, but
carry the right hand completely under the left and let the
thumb come up above its edge.
Beside.— Hold the "A" hands in front, one beside the other,
thumbs pointing upward.
Beside (more).— Hold the left "&" hand in front pointing
toward the right; bring the end of the right "&" hand to
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 107
meet the end of the left, lifting it from a position in front
toward the right side and then to meet the left.
Between. — Hold the left "C" hand in front, the opening
up, and between the thumb and forefinger place the right
"B" hand held edgewise; let the right hand move from sid^
to side between the thumb and forefinger, striking first one
and then the other. XXI, 384.
Except, But. — Holding the left "G" hand in front with the
forefinger pointing upward, grasp it with the thumb and
forefinger of the right "G" hand, lifting it a little. XXI, 385.
But (as a conjunction). — Cross the ends of the forefingers of
the "G" hands pointing outward, and draw them apart, to-
ward the sides.
By. — Hold the "A" hands in front, side by side, the right
a little higher than the left ; bend both hands toward the left,
twisting them from the wrists, so the thumbs point over toward
the left. XXI, 386.
For. — Place the end of the forefinger of the right "G" hand
at the right side of the forehead; with a twisting motion to
the hand bring it down and, pointing the forefinger straight
out, push it forward some distance. XXI, 387.
From. — Crook the forefinger of the right "G" hand, and
place its middle joint thus crooked against the side of the
forefinger of the left "G" hand, pointing upward (K of the
double alphabet), and draw it away toward self. XXI, 388.
In. — Place the right "&" hand downward into the left "0"
Into. — Holding the left open hand out in front, palm down,
and pointing toward the right, push the right "B" hand,
palm down, from toward self down and under the left.
Of. — Hold the right "B" hand out forward from the side,
pointing outward, and held edgewise ; drawing the elbow
slightly back, turn the hand palm down with a twisting mo-
tion; then continue to twist it until the palm is toward the
right and as it assumes this position push the hand slightly
toward the right and front. This sign indicates the idea of
possession to some extent. Or,
(2) Hold the right "G" hand out straight from the side,
pointing outward; give it a turning, twisting motion toward
the inside, so the back of the hand is turned up ; the forefinger
describes a peculiar arch over from left to right. Or.
108 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
(3) Hold out the right "0" hand straight from the side and
somewhat elevated; twisting it with a downward motion out-
ward bring it into the position of "F."
On. — Lay the right open hand upon the back of the left.
Upon. — Lift the right hand to the position as above.
Off. — Having placed the right open hand upon the back of
the left, throw, or let it fall off.
Out. — Place the right "5" hand, pointing upward, in the left
"C;" let it drop down and out of the left, the latter closing
over it to "O" hand.
Out of. — (Away from). Placing the right "5" hand in
the left "C," pointing it downward, lift it upward and out
toward the front, and close the left hand under it to "0."
For Out of in sense of "gone" see that word.
Through. — Push the right "B" hand edgewise outward be-
tween the middle and third fingers of the left, which are open
and closed over against the forefinger and little finger re-
spectively, and pointing upward. XXI, 389.
Till.— Holding the forefinger of the left "G" hand in front,
pointing upward, palm to self, push the forefinger of the right
"6" hand outward to and touching it, but let the right hand
move slowly, and describe an arch over from self to the fore-
finger. XXI, 390. Or,
(2) Move the bent forefinger of the right "G" hand, palm
down, forward a short distance and then drop it.
To. — Same motion, but move the right forefinger straight
to the left with an upward motion.
Toward. — Same motion but not touching the left forefinger.
With. — Hold the "A" hands side by side together, thumbs
up, moving them forward together a little. XXI, 391.
Without. — First sign "with," then let the hands drop away
toward the sides, opening the while. XXI, 392.
Like. — Same as for "same," see preceding pages.
Against. — Strike the palm of the left hand with the end of
the right "B" hand, holding the left hand so the right is
thrown straight outward toward the left. XXI, 378.
About. — Hold the left "&" hand out, pointing to the right,
and around it circle the forefinger of the right "G" hand,
pointing to the left. XXI, 380.
Note: About, in sense of "almost" or "nearly" is signed
like these words, as the signs always stand for the idea and
not the word itself.
343 World 344 Earth 345 Land 346 Dark 347 Water
348 Rain 349 Ice, Freeze 350 Flower 351 Tree 352 Iron
353 Priest 353 Devil 360 Curse 361 Baptize 362 Episcopal
3feiNation 3&1/ American 3trEngland 3 16 Scotland 3fc7Ireland
& 4^ 3
3fc2Germany 3fc?Spain 370 Rome 37/ Greece 372 Negro
TMsia. China 37</New York 37SWashing;ton 37^ Indian 377 Jew
3»J Under 3 *<t- Between ju" Except 3f <~ By J "7 For
3' « From 3*1 Thru 5 f Till, to 3 ?' With iv Without
3« Why 374Because 3ir If 3 ?fc M oney 397 Bills
J?«Very 3 9? House 4°° Humbug </o/Deaf mute ^Multiply
>i°3 Add 4014 Subtract ¥»f Divide V 6 Principle f»7 Li|
^Conscience W Machine y/« Pleasant TjBlaudet oSJ
t'3 One WTwo V* Three f' fo Four
y/7 Five H'S six V? Seven yaoEight
V 2 -' Nine 4^1 Ten v^Ejeven qa?Twenty
V a v Thirty va^One hundred </a*One thousand
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 109
Above. — Touch the back of the open left hand, pointing out-
ward, toward the right with the end of the open right, lift the
latter away, and holding it still flatwise, let it describe a circle
in the air. And,
(2) In the sense of "more than:" Place the end of the
right bent hand, palm down, on the end of the open left hand,
the right several inches above the left, drawing it first a little
toward you and then directly above its original position. Note
that you indicate an excess.
Across, Over. — Holding the left "B" hand out, palm down
and pointing toward the right, pass the right "B" hand edge-
wise across the back of the left. XXI, 379.
Why. — Place the end of the open right hand on the head,
above the right eye ; bring it forward and downward, the
hand as it drops assuming "Y" position. XXII, 393.
Because. — Place the end of the forefinger of the right " L "
hand at the forehead, above the right eye ; draw the hand away
to the side, assuming the position of "A," and then raise the
hand on a level with the top of the head. The hand is some-
times given a peculiar twisting motion. XXII, 394.
As. — With the forefingers of the "G" hands extending out-
ward, place the hands over toward the right, parallel, and
then carry them over to the left side where they assume a
If, Whether. — Bring the "P" hands up in front and balance
them up and down like the pans of a pair of scales. XXI, 395.
Proportion. — Same as in "as" but use the "P" hands.
Money. — Strike the left open palm with the back of the
right "&" hand several times. XXII, 396.
Bills. — Draw the left hand edgewise between the thumb and
fingers of the right hand. This sign also signifies "Dollars."
Very. — Place the "V" hands near together, palm to palm,
and draw apart toward the sides. XXII, 398.
Policeman.— Place the right "C" hand to the left side in
position of policeman's star.
Jail. — Cross the fingers of the right "4" hand across those
of the left.
House. — Place the ends of the open hands together in the
shape of a roof. XXII, 399.
Town, City. — Eepeat the sign for "house" a number of
times, moving the hands here and there or from side to side.
Things. — Placing the right "&" hand over toward the left,
palm up, draw it toward the right, dropping the hand con-
Bone (or anything hard like porcelain, etc). — Strike the
front teeth with the end of the forefinger of the right hand.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 111
Dish. — Sign for "bone," then with the ends of the hands
together draw them toward self in a curve, bringing the heels
together and thus indicating the round shape of a dish.
Knife. — AYhittle against the left forefinger with the right
Fork.— Make a fork with the right "V" hand and "stab"
it against the left palm.
Spoon. — Imitate the use of a spoon with the right "H" hand.
Road. — Holding the open hands palm to palm and pointing
forward, carry them forward as if they represented the sides
of a road.
Fence. — Lock the ends of the "5" hands and place at the
side, then draw apart.
Rubber. — Strike the upper teeth from below with the end of
the thumb of the right "A" hand, carrying the hand outward.
Watch. — Make motion of drawing a watch from the pocket
and carrying it to the ear.
Democrat. — Shake the right "D" hand.
Republican. — Shake the right "E" hand.
Room. — Represent the four sides of a room, first by placing
the hands on opposite sides, and then opposite in front; in
the first the hands are palm to palm and in the last the palm
of the right, being farthest out, is toward the back of the left.
List. — With the open left hand as a paper or pad strike it
with the end of the open right hand, first at the top and re-
peatedly farther down each time, representing a number of
things put down or inventoried.
Chair. — Point the forefingers of the "G" hands down, hold-
ing the hands apart the distance of the legs; carry the hands
back and represent the hind legs and then sign "sit."
Table. — Same, but finish by drawing the hands, palms down,
apart to represent the top of a table.
Key. — Twist the crooked forefinger of the right "G" hand
in the center of the left palm.
Soap. — Draw the end of the right open hand downward
against the palm of the open left.
Humbug, Impostor. — Place the bent hands one against the
back of the other in front, palms toward self, and bend both
hands together downward, bending from the knuckle joints.
112 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Door. — Place the open hands edge to edge, pointing upward ;
swing the right hand away from the left and bring it back
Flag.— Hold the right forearm pointing up, supported on the
left hand, and bending the hand from the wrist, wave it.
Basket. — Placing the right "G" hand under the wrist of the
left, carry it in a semi-circle to the elbow.
Fire. — Holding the bent hands, fingers pointing upward,
move first one hand and then the other upward, wiggle the
fingers, thus representing the flames. IX, 194.
Hay. — Push the right "4" hand upward in front of or
against the mouth.
Barn. — Sign "hay house," or "horse house."
Deaf-mute. — Place the end of the forefinger of the right
"G" hand at the right ear and then carry it around and place
it against the mouth. XXII, 401.
Principle. — Throw the right "P" hand against the upheld
palm of the open left hand. XXII, 406.
Conscience. — Holding the right "G" hand just above the
right side of the head, end of finger pointing toward the right
temple, let the hand drop toward the head but not touching
it. Repeat several times. XXII, 408.
Machine. — Lock the fingers of the bent "C" hands in imita-
tion of the cogs of corresponding wheels and rock them to-
gether several times in imitation of wheels turning together.
Personal signs. — Signs are frequently given to individuals,
vhich in conversation are used instead of spelling out the
person's name. The following will suffice for illustrations.
Rev. T. H. Gallaudet. — Place the "G" hand at the right eye,
the forefinger above and the thumb immediately below; draw
the hand away toward the right and as the hand leaves the
head bring the ends of the forefinger and thumb together.
Dr. E. M. Gallaudet. — Place the right "M" hand against
the left side of the chest near the shoulder, the ends of the
fingers touching the body; draw the hand to the right side
of the chest to a similar position. XXII, 412.
I to 10. — Begin by holding up the forefinger for 1; then
two fingers for 2 ; for 3 bring up the thumb with the two
fingers; for 4 draw back the thumb against the palm and hold
up the four fingers, and for 5 the fingers and thumb. For 6,
while the other fingers are extended, draw down the end of
the little finger against the end of the thumb ; for 7 draw down
the third finger same, and for 8 and 9 the middle and fore-
finger respectively. Note that only one finger touches the
thumb at a time, all the remaining fingers being extended. For
10, hold up the thumb of the "A" hand and shake it from side
to side with a twisting motion from the wrist but not moving
the arm, or, extending the thumb of the "A" hand toward the
left, give it a twisting jerk toward the left (not moving the
arm) until it points upward. XXIII, 413 to 421.
II to 20. — Make 10 as described in last line and then add all
the other digits up to 9. In common practice this is short-
ened and instead of making the full sign for 10 the forefinger
is extended from under the thumb of "A" hand as if forcibly
released for 11, and the same with the two fingers for 12 ; for
13 the two fingers and thumb are thrown out straight with the
two fingers for 12; for 14 the fingers are thrown
out and the thumb drawn quickly against the palm;
for 5 the whole hand is thrown open; and for 16,
17, 18, and 19 the hand is closed as in "A" and the fingers
are thrown out into the positions for the figures, the hand
at first always being in position of "A." For 20 the position
of the right hand is as in "Gr," except that the thumb and
forefinger have been drawn farther apart and the palm is
down ; move the hand to the right with a slight jerk and close
the ends of the thumb and forefinger. In common practice
the thumb and forefinger in position as above are simply
snapped together. XXIII, 422, 423.
21 to 30. — In the twenties, begin the motion with the "L"
hand, palm outward; throw the hand toward the right with
a jerk and then add the numbers 1 to 9. The jerk is not essen-
tial but is advisable as it adds distinctness to the figures. This
is especially true of figures above 50. For 30 make 3 ; then jerk
114 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
hand to right and make cipher with the ends of the thumb and
fingers brought to a point. XXIII, 424.
31 to 40. — Make 3 ; jerk hand to the right and add the' fig-
ures as above. For 40 make 4; then jerk to right and make
cipher for "0."
41 to 50. — Make 4; then jerk hand to right and add figures
as above. For 50 make 5 and then "0," the jerk always being
part of the movement.
In 60, 70, 80, and 90 the figures 6, 7, 8, and 9 are first made
and then simply jerked to the right, the cipher already being
made by the end of the finger against the thumb. Some again
draw the ends of the fingers together, but the above method
is preferable as being the more correct.
In adding the figures to 6, 7, 8, and 9, the jerk should not
be omitted, for unless it is done great confusion is experienced,
the difference between 69 and 96, between 85 and 58, etc., not
For 100 make 1 and then " C ; " for 200 and so on make the
figures and add "C. " Above these add the figures as made
before. XXIII, 425.
For 1,000, 2,000, etc., make the prime figure, then strike
the palm of the open left hand with the end of the right "M"
or simply with the bent right hand. Above these add the
figures as made before. XXIII, 426.
For 1,000,000, 2,000,000, etc., make the prime figure, then
strike the left palm as in thousand but twice instead of only
once. Billion is expressed by striking the palm three times;
trillion, four times.
For the fractions, make the numerator, then, lowering the
hand quickly, make the denominator. To add distinctness it
may be advisable to draw the fractional line in the air with
For the ordinals make the usual figure sign, then give the
hand a twisting jerk from the wrist, not moving the hand or
arm from its position.
Arithmetic. — Hold the "V" hands pointing upward, the
palms toward self; throw the right hand toward the left and
the left toward the right so they meet and cross, the back of
the right "V" passing against the palm of the left "V." Ee-
peat the motion several times. This sign may also be used to
mean to figure or calculate anything or estimate.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 115
Multiply. — Made the same as for "arithmetic," but the
motion made but once instead of being repeated several times.
Add. — Hold the left "&" hand pointing up and rather low;
upon its end place the end of the right "&" hand pointing
down ; move both hands upward, lifting the right hand and
striking it against the left several times as they rise. XXII,
Subtract. — Holding the open left hand with palm toward
self, strike the ends of the fingers of the right bent hand
against its palm and drop the right hand down away from the
left, as if taking something away from it. XXII, 404.
Divide. — (Long division). "With the forefingers of the "G"
hands trace in the air the two right angles placed at either
side of the dividend. XXII, 405.
For short division, beginning with the end of the thumb of
the left " L " hand trace the length of the thumb and forefinger
with the end of the forefinger of the right "G" hand, thus
indicating the right angle placed under the dividend.
DISTINCTIVELY CATHOLIC SIGNS
APPROVED BY CATHOLIC DEAF-MUTE CONFERENCE
REV. FATHER F. A. MOELLER, S. J., Chairman
Since a good signer knows how, by skillful combination, to
make his ideas clear with even a limited number of signs,
many signs perhaps desired on the following list are not given.
Signs in common use, or given in Long's Dictionary, or in
the Dictionary by a Sister of St. Joseph, which sufficiently
express the Catholic idea, are not given in the list, for instance,
the sign for "Lord."
"Where several signs are in common use, but only one ex-
presses the Catholic idea, that sign is the only one given, e. g.,
the sign for "Church."
Where signs have been appropriated for common use so that
they are no longer distinctive, a new sign has been invented,
e. g., a sign for "Priest."
Proper names should, as a rule, be spelled.
Abbe de l'Epee.— "Priest," followed by the sign for
Absolution (Sacramental). — Blessed, forgiveness.
Abstinence. — The upward pointing thumb of the right "A"
hand is drawn over the mouth from left to right. XXIX, 427.
Adam. — The thumb point of the closed right hand is thrown
up and touched to the right side of the forehead.
Advent. — Jesus, approaching, time.
Adore. — The open palms from both sides of the head are
brought in an attitude of prayer, while the head bows rever-
ently. XXIX, 428.
Advocate. — Prayer, friend.
Altar (for Mass) — Mass, table.
Angelus. — Angel, prayer.
Apostles.— Twelve, sent.
Archbishop.— Right "A" hand is raised to about the level
of the forehead. Follow with the sign for "Bishop." (Chief-
Ash Wednesday. — Draw a cross on the forehead with the
closed tips of the "9" hand. XXIX, 429.
Atonement. — Penance-offer, or the signs for "Make" and
"Satisfaction." XXIX, 430.
Baptism.— The "W" hand is tilted over the head as if pour-
Benediction (of the Blessed Sacrament).— With both hands
closed as if holding the "Monstrance," trace the form of a
cross. XXIX, 431.
Bethlehem. — Jesus, birth, city.
Bible. — Holy Book. New Testament. — New Holy Book. Old
Testament. — Old Holy Book.
Bishop. — The third finger is carried to the lips as if kissing
the ring. XXIX, 432.
Brother (Religious). — Trace a falling collar on the breast
with the separated thumb and index finger of the right hand.
Candlemas. — Blessed, candle, day.
120 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Cardinal. — Red, bishop.
Catechism. — Catholic, truth, book.
Charity. — Same as "Love."
Christmas. — Jesus, birth, day.
Church. — The "C" hand rests on the back of the closed left
hand, i. e., built on a rock. XXIX, 4331/ 2 -
Communion (Holy). — Make the sign for "Eucharist" and
then with the right index finger touch the breast over the
Communion (of Saints). — Same as "Union."
Conceived. — Eeceived, life.
Confession (Sacramental). — Same as "Penance" Sacra-
Confirmation. — A cross is traced on the forehead with the
thumb of the open right hand, followed by a slight blow with
the right palm on the right cheek. XXIX, 434.
Contrition. — Same as "Sorrow."
Crucifix. — "Jesus" and- a cross made before you by crossing
the index fingers. XXIX, 435.
Crucify. — The touching of the left palm with the right index
finger is followed by a hammering blow on the left palm with
the right "S" hand. Eepeat the same for the other hand and
extend both arms. XXIX, 436.
Dispensation. — Law, excuse.
Disciples. — Followers of Jesus.
Easter. — Both "E" hands are held downwards and then by
a twist of the wrist they are turned upwards and raised. XXIX,
Ephpheta. — A St. Andrew's Cross is traced with the out-
ward right "E" hand in space before the body, as on a ban-
ner. XXIX, 437.
Eternity. — The outward right "E" hand traces successive
Evangelist (Writer of the Gospels). — Holy, writer.
Eve. — The thumb point of the right "A" hand is thrown
upwards and touches the right cheek, indicating the first
woman. XXIX, 438.
Examination (of Conscience). — With the right "E" hand
facing you, trace small circles on the forehead and follow with
the sign for "Conscience." XXIX, 440.
Extreme Unction. — With the thumb of the right "A" hand
trace a cross on the eyelids. XXIX, 441.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 121
Eucharist. — With the thumb and. right index finger of the
"9" hand trace a cross before the lips. XXIX, 442.
Fast.— Draw the thumb of the right "F" hand along the
lips from left to right. XXIX, 443.
Fortitude. — Patient, suffering, or the sign for "Brave."
Gentile. — Not, Jew.
Gospel. — Jesus', story.
Grace. — The gathered finger tips of the right hand are low-
ered over the head and then spread, without, however, touching
Grace (Sanctifying). — Holy -making, grace. XXIX, 444.
Grace (Actual). — Helping grace.
Hell.— Eternal, fire.
Heresy. — False, faith.
Holy Orders. — The thumb of the right "A" hand is run
along the thumb and forefinger of the open left hand and
back again so as to finish at the thumb point. Do the same
for the other hand. XXIX, 445.
Hypocrite. — False, friend.
Immaculate Conception.— "With the right index finger trace
a circle around the crown of the head and then drop the arms
at full length, palms outward. XXIX, 446.
Indulgence. — Punishment, forgiven, or with the "P" hand
as used for "Purgatory" make a rotary rubbing-out motion
on the left palm.
Jerusalem. — Holy, city.
Jesuits. — Sign S. J.
Latin. — Draw the thumb point of the right "L" hand from
the forehead to the tip of the nose. XXIX, 447.
Lent. — The thumb of the right "L" hand is drawn along
the lower lip from left to right. XXX, 448.
Limbo. — Resting place.
Mary. — -With right "M" hand trace a verticle circle before
the forehead. XXX, 449. '
Mary (Virgin). — "With right "V" hand trace a verticle
circle before the forehead and follow with the sign for "Mary."
Mass. — Right and left "F" hands meet, and are then ele-
vated, as at the Consecration. XXX, 45*1.
Minister. — Protestant-preacher.
Miracle. — "Wonder, work.
122 THE SIGN LANGUAGE
Mission.— Eight "M" hand pressed over the heart is fol-
lowed by the sign for God. XXX, 452.
Mystery. — -Hidden, truth.
Nun. — With open hands trace a veil from head to shoulder.
Pope. — The finger tips of both hands are joined over the
head in three successive heights, indicating the triple crown.
Purgatory. — With the right "P" hand trace a small circle .
on the upturned palm of the left and then rest the second fin-
ger of the "P" hand in the center of the left palm. XXX. 457.
Penance (in general). — Imitate scourging the left elbow.
Penance (Sacrament). — The fingers of both right hands
crossed are held to the right ear as if forming a screen. XXX,
Pilate. — Soman governor.
Precepts (of the Church). — Church, laws.
Priest. — Both "F" hands are brought together as at the
"Oremus. " (The closed thumb and index fingers of the "F"
hand denote consecrated hands and "F" is also the initial of
-"Father.") XXX, 456.
Protestant. — The first and second fingers of the right hand
are thrown against the verticle palm of the left hand.
Rector. — After the sign for priest follow with the sign for
Redemptorist.— Sign C. SS. R.
Religion. — The "R" hand is moved from the heart heaven-
Retreat (Spiritual). — The "R" hand is placed on the fore-
head and on the lips. XXX, 458.
Rosary. — Both hands having the thumbs and indices closed,
meet and are then drawn apart horizontally while the thumbs
and indices opening and closing imitate the counting of the
beads. XXX, 459.
Sacrament. — Same sign as for "Grace," but the lowered
hand touches the head. XXX, 460.
Saint. — The palm of the right hand sliding over the upturned
palm of the left hand finishes in an "S" hand. XXX, 461.
Saint Joseph. — The sign for "Saint" is followed by the little
finger of the right hand tracing a "J" on the palm of the left
hand. XXX, 462.
A MANUAL OF SIGNS 123
Saint John. — The same as the preceding, except that the
"J" is traced on the back of the left hand.
Sanctifying. — Making, holy.
Scapular. — The index fingers draw an imaginary string from
the shoulders meeting at the breast. XXX, 463.
Sin. — Law, broken.
Sin (Mortal). — Large, sin.
Sin (Venial). — Small, sin.
Sloth. — Soul, laziness.
Sodality. — Same as "Society," or trace with the right
thumb and index apart, a badge downward over the heart.
Stations. — Holy, cross, way.
Statue. — Trace with the thumbs of the "A" hands the out-
lines of a figure.
Supernatural. — From heaven.
Tabernacle. — Eucharist dwelling.
Temperance. — The vertical open right hand is passed through
the middle fingers of the left, palm towards you, followed by
the sign for path, indicating the middle way. XXX, 464.
Testament.— See "Bible."
Trespass. — Same as for "Sin;" or make the sign for "Of-
fend," i. e., the indices of both hands are made to collide in an
upward motion at the height of the breast. XXX, 465.
Trinity. — Encircle the right "3" hand with the thumb and
middle finger of the left, and then draw the right hand down-
ward through the encircling fingers and exhibit the index
finger of the left hand, i. e., three in one. XXX, 466.
Vow. — Promise to God.
INDEX TO CHAPTERS AND PLATES
(Roman figures in parentheses refer to plates; Arabic figures to
The Sign Language -- 5
Auxiliary Verbs (I) , 14
Pronouns (II) 17
Mankind and Relationship (III) 21
Sensations, Feelings, and the Affections (IV, V) 24
Mental Actions, Language and the Communication of Ideas
(VI, VII) 33
Motion and Action (VIII, IX, X) 45
Occupations of Mankind (XI) 64
Adjectives and Abstract Nouns (XII, XIII) 67
Measurement of Time, Space and Quantity, (XIV, XV) 79
Articles of Food, Fruit, etc. (XVI) 87
Animals (XVII) 92
The World and Nature (XVIII) 96
The Deity and Religion (XIX) 100
Countries and Nationalities (XX) 103
Prepositions (XXI) 106
Miscellaneous (XXII) 110
Numbers and Counting (XXIII) 113
Catholic Signs (XXIX, XXX) 119
The Lord's Prayer (XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII) Insert at Back
Sample Sentences, etc. (XXVIII) Opposite page 108
Note: In looking for the word desired think rather of the idea
and get the word which nearest expresses it, or words that will de-
fine it; disregard the grammatical form of the word and look for
nouns, adjectives or verbs under the one form of the word. Figures
in the right hand column refer to the page where the description
will be found.
Abbe de l'Bpee 119
Absence 56, 78
Accuse 37, 59
Add 56, 115
Advise • 41
Afraid :. 71
After (in place) 103
Any one 19
Appear 38, 59
Ash Wednesday 119
Ask alms 62
At a loss 44
Be, to 14
Bear (bring forth) 56
Bear (animal) 94
Before (prep) 106
Before (adverb) 81, 106
Belong to 32
Bible 101, 119
Bright 71, 96
Bright (smart) 70
Brother (religious) 119
Bush , . . . 99
Can't 14, 38
Careful 50, 73
Church 102, 120
City ...' 110
Clear 68, 96
Command s 58
Confused 30, 44
Correct 37, 74
Cry out 54
Cut one, to 27
Dear (expensive) 76
Die out 53
Different objects 20
Difficult 69,- 78
Disposed to 43
Don't care 31
Don't know 34
Don't want 29
Drink (liquor) 91
Effect (force) 56
Epee, abbe de 1' 119
Eve 120 I
Every day 81
Examination (of conscience) . .120
Extreme Unction 120
Fall (autumn) 85
Fall in love with 24
Fast 55, 74
Fast (abstain) 121
Few 20, 77
Fight 26, 58
Find fault 37
Fine (charge) 61
Fire 54, 112
Fish (v) 60
Fish 88, 95
First ■. 83
Fly (insect) 95
Food 46, 87
Fool (hoax) 43
Funny 27, 73
Future tense 16
Gallaudet, T. H 112
Gallaudet, E. M 112
Give up 59
Good bye 32
Good enough 75
Grace (sanctifying) 121
Grace (actual) 121
Happen 43, 51
Have (possess) 15
Have (finished) 15
Have to (obligation) 15
Heavens, the 96
Hell 101, 121
High (prominent) 74
Holy Orders 121
Humorous 27, 73
Hurt, te feel 32
Immaculate Conception 121
Imagine (invent) 33
In a few days 80
Indeed , 72
Influence (cause) 56
Influence (example) 56
Jew : 105
Last week 81
Leave (let alone) 45
Lie (recline) 61
Light 78, 96, 97
Look 25, 38
Look for 54
Lord ' 100
Make fun of 37
Make love to 24
Mary (Virgin) 121
Mean (purpose) 37
Money 75, 110
Motion forward 46
Much 75, 84
Must 15, 37
Need 15, 37
New England 105
New York 105
Next (nearest) 83
Next (in order) 83
Next week 81
None ". 19
North America 105
Not yet 85
Offer 37, 48
One another 20
Out of 108
Part from 59
Past tense 16
Penance (in general) 122
Penance (Sacramental) 122
Personal signs 112
Poor (lean) 69
Power 38, 56
Preach 6 *
Present tense 16, 80
Priest 100, 122
Put in order 51
Quick 55, 74
Ready 51, 72
Religion 43, 122
Rule 52, 66
Run away 47
Run for office 40
Saint John 123
Saint Joseph 122
Save 28, 61
Scold 43, 58
Sec 25, 3S
Seek 54, 61
Select 40, 50
Several 20, 77
Sharp (edge) 70
Sharp (smart) 70
Sharp (shrewd) 70
She , 17
Short 68, 71
Sign, to 54
Slip away 47
Soft " 68
Some one 19
South America 105
Spring (water) 98
Spring (season) 85
Statue I 23
Still (quiet) 35
Subtract 56, 115
Suspicion 34, 40
Take care of 50
Talk (converse) 35
Teach 36, 64
Tell about 36
That 18, 20
Thing 19, 110
Trolley car 99
Try 38, 57
Turkey (country) 104
Union, The 103
United States 103
Various 20, 73
Vice president 66
Wait upon 51
^m- ^ t VMH
Lord's Prayer- — IV.